Thursday, 30 April 2009

Shop Girl Pay Offs

Last month a Mrs Winks came in to pay the balance and collect her chandelier.
I didn’t recognise her and checked the date on her receipt.
“2001!” I gasped.
“Yes, it’s been a while.”
“Eight years.”
“Yes, something like that.”
“No, it has, it’s been eight years.”
“I wasn’t feeling well.”
I got on the phone to Mum, who directed me to her light which was still packed and ready to go.
Mrs Winks is a record, but there are plenty of other customers who disappear for long periods of time mid payment.
Like Mr Francis who comes in wanting another light for his house in Ghana.
He’s still paying off for the last one after four months. It’s in the backroom in a plastic bag.
Mr Francis is a small, jumpy man with a voice that scratches your eardrums.
Not someone you want to get stuck in a lift with.
My heart sinks as the routine haggling begins. I haven’t had a cup of tea in hours and feel the familiar stirrings of my inner monster.
The chandelier he’s after is already a bargain at £199.
“Come on, I’m a good customer!” he says.
It’s funny how the bad customers say they are good customers and the good customers say nothing.
“There’s already a hundred quid off that light.”
“Aaaah!” he cries. “I want my discount!”
“185 is the lowest I’ll go.”
“Come on!”
“You’ve got a good thing going here,” I say firmly. “Where else do you get the luxury of paying when you want?”
“Give me it for £150.”
Connie walks in with her trolley. My dream of a cup of tea dries up.
“I’ve come from the doctors,” she announces and waves a hand over her swollen belly. “They say I’ve got estra...estro... something or other.”
“Oh,” I say, looking at Mr Francis, who’s fidgeting in front of the chandelier. “That’s not good.”
“They’re waiting for the results. Here, look at my list of pills.”
She takes out some papers from her hand bag and shows me them.
“Come on, how much?” Mr Francis says, feeling neglected.
He whines.
Connie looks him up and down with mild disgust. She doesn’t take nonsense from anyone.
I feel awkward. Customers shouldn’t barter in front of each other.
“I bring the list so I don’t have to bring the pill boxes. I can’t be bothered with all that,” she continues. “And I never remember the names of them, do I?”
I need Mr Francis to make up his mind. I feel like I’m being crushed between two heavy boxes.
“Light that one for me,” he says, pointing at a different chandelier.
I bash the ladder against the counter as I bring it out.
“What is it?” Connie says, turning her attention to my agitated customer. She points at his original choice. “Between that one and the one she’s lighting?”
Mr Francis steps from one foot to the other and nods his head.
I stand at the top of the ladder and plug the cables into the tester.
The chandelier lights up. It’s a bit dusty.
“THAT ONE,” she says, pointing back at the first one.
He looks at her with sudden interest.
“Yes, you think? Okay I’ll have it.”
I’m gobsmacked. I want to give Connie a hug.
Mr Francis hands over a deposit for it and I get the receipt book.
“180,” he says.
I write £185.
“What a cheek,” she says, after he’s left.
“Yes, the things I have to put up with,” I say, and I settle into a rhythm of crystal pinning as she tells me about her visit to the hospital.
And later about her curtain tiebacks, the camera they thrust through her groin and the steak and kidney pie she’s having for dinner.

1 comment:

Lady C said...

oh i like the sound of these two! maybe a whole new episode for them... cariad