Thursday, 29 September 2011

Bearded Dragon



The fact that it was eleven rugs down wasn’t an issue. It was the bad-mannered attitude of him/her. Before then though, I got shouted at.
          “Alan, stop picking at a fingernail and get to work.”
          “I am working.”
          “Not by my definition. There’s a customer over there looking at the rugs. She clearly needs your assistance – so may I suggest you get over there like right now.”
          That was some words exchanged between me and Duncan, my wanker boss. Speaking to me like he always speaks to me. Like he would know what work is. Never put in a decent shift in his life. Born with a silver spoon poked up his arse. He only got his position through nepotism; his uncle is Uncle Bob. 
          At Furniture Bob’s as well as sell beds and bedroom furniture we also have a reasonable supply of rugs to take-away. They are positioned at the rear of the store, in the left hand corner.
          Some sample full and medium sized rugs lay flat in a pile on a raised platform that has ample storage beneath for rolled rugs all wrapped in plastic. There are two large open-top cube towers set against the far wall that houses a selection of runners.
          The lady had her back to me as I approached. She appeared to be struggling to lift the pile; seemingly wanting to get at a rug midway down. It was no wonder she was struggling. The weight of so many rugs heaped on top of one another makes it impossible to flip over more than two or three at any given time. As I approached I couldn’t help but notice the bulging calf muscles beneath black stockings and perched red high heels.
          “Here, let me help you madam. Is there a style that has caught your eye?”
          We open late on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Being on a retail park it makes sense being open for business when there is a draw to our close neighbours –  Asda, Comet and Tiles U Can Trust. What I find about working late night is that it often brings out those who do not shop in the day. Late night is less peopled, less hassle. This is a time when you get introduced to people with large facial birth marks and disfigurements than you ever would during daylight.
          Her voice impacted my senses at exactly the same time as I appreciated such large hands, large hairy hands. The words, deep gruff words, came from out of a pink lipsticked mouth surrounded by stubble. The Blah Blah Blah villains in The Comic Strip Presents ‘Five Go Mad In Dorset’ immediately sprung to mind. I know of this old programme well. My dad brought me up on it. “This is true comedy son. This is the last bastion of true British talent.” He did like that show.
          “Yeah, BLAH BLAH BLAH, I like the Floral Garden one, BLAH BLAH BLAH, I’d like to see it in full if you don’t mind.”
          The Floral Garden rug in question was eleven rugs down. I lifted the top rug (a Paisley) from the right in its entirely so that it landed upside down on the medium stack immediately on the left. I repeated this action as I set about the next nine rugs that needed shifting in the following order: Organic Wave, Sheepskin, 3D Rose, Pink Damask, In Bloom, Geo Leaf, Wool Stripe, Green Spot and Silhouette Lion.
          I was thinking three thoughts in this order as I sweated with the rugs: 1) Little Britain. 2) Little Red Riding Hood 3) This job would be a hell of a lot easier if she/he mucked in and helped instead of standing there, grim-faced, just watching me struggle.
          Some sixty seconds minutes later.
          “Here you are,” I said, refraining from adding madam. Madman more like. “The Floral Garden.”
          “How much is it?”
          “One two five.”
          “One hundred and twenty-five?”
          “Yes.”
          “No, I won’t be paying that. How much is it in medium?”
          “Eighty-five.”
          “Have you got it in a runner?”
          I checked.
          “No, but I can order it in for you, I can order you the runner.”
          “How much is it, you didn’t say how much?”
          “Forty founds.”
          “No, I won’t be paying that.”
          The lady with the five o’clock shadow then stomped out of the store. A week later she was in again. Not in high heels, but in pink Reebok trainers.
          I didn’t speak to her on this occasion. It was Duncan. She wanted to buy a White Hungarian goose down duvet (single) but was arguing about ninety-nine pounds being too much, as was the slightly cheaper pure duck down and the even cheaper duck feather and down.
          “No, I won’t be paying that,” she eventually said and headed for the exit.
          I was going ask Duncan what he made of this lady, get his opinion about her stubble, see if he would lighten up for once. But when I went to catch his eye I noticed how he was marvelling at her arse before it disappeared from view out of the store, so I said nothing.

An extract from 'Nothing Poetic', a forthcoming collection of new poems and short fiction.

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