Feet hurt. Back ached. Yet, Jude still forced a smile. “Care for a bag?” Picking up sticky coins he’d probably pinched from his mum’s purse.
“Nah.” Unzipped his backpack, exposing graffiti covered text books, and slipped his drinks inside.
Jude gave a ‘thank-you-for-being-patient’ smile to those waiting. She was the only staff member on the floor because the Manager was busy banging the Shelf-stacker in the storeroom. And the other checkout operator was outside smoking like a back-firing VW in the carpark.
“Care for a bag?”
The young woman blinked tears. Sniffed. Her lower lip quivered, unable to speak.
“Allow me.” Jude packed the large bucket of ice cream, a slab of chocolate, a Bridget Jones’ DVD, and held out the box of tissues. “Vodka’s on special across the road.”
“Thanks.” She tore open the tear-catchers, choked out a sob, and staggered out the doors.
The man in the business suit raked fingers through bleached hair. He was in the middle of saving the planet, by closing the deal of a lifetime over his phone. Bought bottled water, gum, condoms, bunch of flowers and a packet of Tofu. Slapped down his cash on the counter as if placing a bet with his bookie. Snatched up his bag. Winked and flashed his whitened teeth against a fake-tanned complexion and disappeared into the rays of sunshine glinting in the carpark.
Two workmen spilled chip packets, steak, a bottle of sauce, and a loaf of bread onto the counter. The doors opened and in walked a young female in yoga pants. Like whiplash their postures straightened, chests puffed out, and inhaled for that creative abs illusion. Their heads tilted and their statures deflated as they watched those yoga pants disappear down the aisle.
Jude sighed, and realised she was born in the wrong era. Which should’ve been when they celebrated middle-aged spreads – during the Depression. “Next.”
The tight lipped working-mother scanned over her list. Presented household basics for payment in their specific order. The teenage daughter took a selfie of herself at the counter for Facebook. Artfully rearranged the items at the checkout for her Instagram feed. Then tweeted the links.
“Ta.” The mother’s eye’s never lifted from her to-do list. She lugged off with her shopping bags, scanning her handheld note. While the teen-queen followed staring at her phone.
The young lad placed the store’s shopping basket on the counter. Stepped back. Shoved hands in his pockets. Shoulders bunched up to his ears. His squinted eyes darted around the store. “Hi,” he mumbled.
“Hi.” Jude peeked into the basket. Cocked an eyebrow, suppressing a grin. “Would you like to carry these?”
His face glowed a neon red. “I’ll have a bag, please.”
Jude packed the coloured packets. “Couldn’t remember your girlfriend’s brand?”
Held out his money head down. “For my mum. Got busted teasing my sister.”
Went to hand the receipt to the young man, Jude leant down across the counter and looked him in the eye. “Just think of it as being trained for helping out your future girlfriend.”
He blinked. Posture straightened. “Thanks.” Smiling, he walked out the door swinging his shopping bag full of assorted tampons.
The chain-smoking offsider walked in, slipped her smokes under the cash register’s counter and adjusted her uniform. “What’d I miss?”
“Nothing. I’m on break.” Jude , on a mission, she headed to the storeroom. Her plan? To bust the floor manager and the shelf-stacker, to guarantee her existence would have an impact on someone today.