Customer

I went into Easons which is a supermarket for books where no one knows anything about them. They also sell magazines, mostly of no interest to me. I picked out New Scientist and looked through it. There was one article I was interested in.

I took it over to the photocopier and copied the page, at a cost of ten pence. Then I replaced the magazine on the shelf. A store attendant watched me from a distance, with a beady eye. Our eyes met.

Direct me to your porn department, I said. We don’t sell porn he said. I turned on my heel and walked out.

On my way home in the bus I read the article, on microelectronics, a subject I was interested in at the time. It was worth every penny of ten pence.

When I went back to the shop another day the photocopier was no longer on the ground floor. So I was instrumental in at least one change in Dublin.

When I was thirteen I went into a good bookshop with my older brother.   I walked around the shop, my brother started reading a sci fi book.   I came back to him, he was still reading, turning the pages over quickly, he was a quick reader. The attendant came over and looked at him from time to time, but my brother kept reading the book.   I was embarrassed, my brother wasn’t. When he got to the end of the book he put it back on the shelf and started to walk out.

You should buy that book, I said. Why should I now that I have read it, he said.   Was it any good? It was quite good.

When I got home I said to our mother I’m never going into a bookshop with Brian again, he read a whole book without paying for it.

My mother smiled.   Maybe it wasn’t worth buying she said. Was it any good? It was quite good. Quite good is not good enough.

The whole time he kept looking like he was considering it. The attendant came and looked at him, but Brian just kept reading. If everyone did that they wouldn’t sell any books. Maybe they aren’t all as quick at reading as Brian, said my mother.

When I was fourteen I was at the sweet counter in Woolworths. I asked the fifteen year old girl behind the counter if I was two years older would you go out with me? I’d drop dead first she said. Then two girls I knew walked down the other side of the shop. I gave them a wave, hi I said. They said nothing.

Alright, don’t talk to me you snobs, I said, I hope your knicker elastic breaks. That was a terrible thing you said to those girls, said the shop assistant. That’s an awful thing to happen to any girl.

Why won’t they talk to me, I said. Maybe they don’t like you. They live right beside me, I said.

When I was seventeen those two girls were in the kitchen with me. They were very pretty. God gave some girls looks but nothing else. Another girl was there, beautiful but with a fully functioning brain.

I told the knicker elastic story, just making conversation. I said of course I wouldn’t say it now. The pretty girls said nothing. They appeared not to have the gift of speech. They could see it as a history lesson.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

When I was in a shop in DunLaoghaire five girls behind the counter were busily engaged in talking about the dance last night, totally ignoring me. In all innocence I asked, do you work here?   They became embarrassed. Far be it fom me to embarrass a girl or girls. But sometimes it can’t be helped.

What can’t be cured love, must be endured love.

When I was in a car accident my head hit the windscreen, cracking it. Did your whole life flash before your eyes, a barman asked? It was like a porn movie, I said.

These were in the days before shop assistants asked are you alright, to which I feel like replying, no, I’m a serial killer looking for my next victim. Thank you for asking.

Tich Ennis

2nd January, 2017

 

 

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