Cheesed off

My morning at the supermarket was buzzing along most satisfactorily. I had a long shopping list in hand and as far as I could see, this was my lucky day. Everything I wanted was right there, under one roof. A top priority on my list was two boxes of a particular brand of cheese cubes, and there, sitting on the shelf, waiting just for me, were the very last two boxes in the store. Into the trolley they went with a sigh of triumph and relief. I moved on down the aisle, collected a few more things that I required, and headed towards the cash counter, feeling absolutely chuffed.

I watched as the assistant billed each of the items I had picked up, and was surprised to find that there was only one box of cheese cubes in the trolley. “There should be two boxes,” I told her. “Just one here, Ma’am,” she said. “You’re sure? That’s funny, I know I picked up two”. So she checked again. Nope. Just one box of cheese cubes now sitting in solitary splendour on the counter top. Both of us looked around to see if a box six inches in diameter had miraculously managed to slip through mesh that was barely two and a half inches in width. No box in sight.

I had no choice but to come to the sorry conclusion that while I had been merrily humming to myself while getting the last of my requirements, someone had just as merrily filched one of my boxes of cheese from right under my nose.

This being one of the new upmarket stores frequented by the well-heeled, and supposedly well educated, I was disgusted that someone could have done something so cheap. I guess having money doesn’t guarantee having class, I thought to myself, unhappily.

As I got into the car, I recalled an incident that took place in yet another supermarket, not too long ago. I remember reaching out to pick up a couple of bottles of ginger ale only to find another hand reaching for them too. I looked up into the face of my competitor, and both of us broke into grins.

“Go ahead”, he said to me, “You can have them”. “No, you go ahead,” I said to him, “I can get this another time”. “Tell you what”, he said, “Why don’t we each take one, that way, we’re both happy”.

So that’s what we did. And that’s what we were.  I remember leaving that store with a warm, fuzzy glow. That pleasant, courteous exchange with a total stranger, had lasted no more than an instant, but had made a difference to my day. So unlike the way I felt today... quite literally, cheesed off.

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