I was first struck by his obvious passion and dedication to his job. If only, I thought longingly, as I watched him swipe packages of meat and cartons of milk, if only I could bring half as much passion and love to my own job- I would be master of the universe. He really loves it- the pride he shows in separating the fresh produce from the tins from the eggs cannot be feigned. A pilot cannot experience more joy in flying a Boeing aircraft than this guy has in checking in goods at my local supermarket.
But it doesn’t stop with just checking the stuff in. He cares about the customers too- as if they are his own and he is not employed by some huge faceless corporation. Once he told me: “This is an organic cabbage- do you really want to pay 4 dollars for it?” No- of course I didn’t, and I told him to put it back. Another time he said “There’s a coupon for these chicken drumsticks- you can get two packages for the price of one. Go on- go pick up another one- I’ll keep your place in the line up…” Where else can you find such selfless devotion, care and consideration?
But true love blossomed this week. I piled my groceries on the conveyor belt. I murmured “Can you please bag them”- for I haven’t yet reached those heights of eco-consumerism to bring my own bags. He said “Have you been in Britain then lately?” Now, I have heard that particular comment a thousand times in the past two years, so I wouldn’t have been so impressed, if he hadn’t followed up with “Been watching Dr. Who, have you?”
Dr. Who? Dr. Who? Who else in Halifax knows about Dr. Who? Instantly we fell into those rare delicate conversations which you have perhaps three times in a lifetime, if you are lucky, and where extreme similarities of literary taste are uncovered, and you basically discover your true soulmate –“My favourite Dr. Whos are the older ones”- “Oh yes, the newer ones are too young and modern…” “And Red Dwarf? I love Red Dwarf!” “Yes, I read the books as well, but I have to say the TV series was better done- the books are too weird and violent”- “Oh yes, the TV series was fantastic- but my favourite in this genre is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – “Yes! Yes! That was wonderful!” – “And Sherlock Holmes, with Jeremy Brett- now that was a true classic. Never a better Holmes, if you ask me. Such a shame he passed away.” “Oh I know, I know…” At this point, luckily my groceries were finished and I had to pay and leave the cashpoint, as I was on the point of asking him whether he had read the Wikipedia article on Jeremy Brett’s mad life and sad death, and what he thought of it.
Oh old supermarket cashier man, I’m a lot like you. I love you, we are one heart that beats in two bodies. Such a pity that you are eighty years old, at least, and I am already married with two children. Otherwise we would be married tomorrow, and spend the rest of our days watching old Dr. Who and Red Dwarf and Sherlock Holmes DVDs….