It is no secret that I will avoid most human interaction, if at all possible. It’s not that I don’t like people per say, rather that I find human interaction somewhat bothersome, and thus would much prefer to spontaneously burst my appendix than talk. Despite Bob’s ascertains, it is not good, it’s hard. So I tend to stay indoors….
When I do leave the house, nine times out of ten, I am saved by the presence of my wife. She orders, she pays, she enquires, she answers, she replies, she communicates. In short, she does all my interacting for me. I do all the paying and she does all the talking. We have found our groove and it suits us (me) just fine.
But now and again, a matter of life and death-esque urgency occurs, and one needs to interact. One has no choice. Choose wisely my friends, choose wisely….
I choose you
I’d left my wife and kids browsing in the Garden Furniture Department and ventured off alone, and desperate. I found him in Garden Clothing, organising the wellington boots. Personally, I would have gone with ‘smallest to largest’ to create a visually pleasing, welly boot incline. He opted for making sure the matching pairs were together, but in any order. He was clearly mentally unstable, but he would have to do. Needs must.
I approached him from behind and said “excuse me”, but he didn’t hear me. This always happens to me. I don’t know whether subconsciously, because I don’t want to talk, I speak very quietly? Or whether I’m Bruce Willis and died some time ago? Either way, I always have to go in for a second time. Always. Every time.
OH COME ON, I practically Pavarotti’d that from the roof tops. That elderly couple over there, MUCH FURTHER AWAY THAN YOU, just turned around, what’s the deal Neil?
Had I not been about to urinate two cups of Yorkshire tea into my slip ons, I would’ve turned on my heels at this point and spent the rest of the day sulking and being cross with my wife, but, needs must.
Third time worked like a charm. “Follow me”, he said and off we went. GREAT.
I may regret choosing you
Ideally, I would have preferred a set of succinctly accurate directions, as opposed to the personal escort service that the nice man now seemed to be providing. However, not being familiar with store policy, and not being sure I could maintain continency for much longer, I went with it. Somewhat begrudgingly.
I’ve never been sure what the correct walking etiquette is, when being escorted to the lavatory by an employee of an establishment? I tend to walk a few steps behind, subtly intoning that I do not wish to engage. My wife tells me that this could be considered aloof and rude, and that rather, I should walk at the side of the person, like a normal human being. She is clearly a chatterbox happy idiot.
I must confess though, that in this instance, the nice man kept looking back over his shoulder. I assumed this was to ensure that I was keeping up with this jaunty pace, as he weaved through the store aisles? It seems I was wrong. It seems he wanted to interact, as after the third look back over the shoulder, he stopped walking. I started panicking. He let me catch up and then he started walking again. We were side by side. He started talking. I stopped breathing.
I DO regret choosing you.
Him: That was a big storm wasn’t it?
Me: *with no idea what he was talking about* Yes, needed it though.
Had there been a storm? When? Last night? Just now? Where? In this country? Had I just said ‘yes, needed it though’, referring to a Tsunami wiping out thousands? Does he think I’m a racist? Is ‘storm’ a sporting reference? Is he talking football? I want my mummy.
Can I un-choose you please?
Suddenly I saw my Mecca. It was a sign. Literally. A lady, a gent, a baby, and a wheelchair user, all illuminated on high in the not too far distance. I was saved. HALLELUJAH. I thanked the nice man for his time and in dong so, expected him to peel off in another direction to go and help some other poor bastard. But he didn’t. Instead, he carried on walking at my side. And then he said this….
“It’s ok, I’m on my break now”.
What does THAT mean? If you are on your break now, why are you still walking with me to the toilets dude?
Is he actually intending to come in with me? WTF? When I asked where the toilets were, I could never have dreamed of being chaperoned all the way to the very urinals edge. Is he looking for a vote for employee of the month or something? This all seems a bit above and beyond doesn’t it?
Does he even work here? Have I just inadvertently performed the perfunctory stages of engaging another man in some mid afternoon cottaging? He is in uniform, but maybe he’s an imposter? Maybe it’s a rouse? A buggering set up? My mind was a whirr.
I began to panic and then some. I quickly replayed up to this moment in my head. How exactly had it come to pass that I was now walking to the lavatory, with a new best friend, who it would seem, was destined to see my penis?
Think. THINK. What’s happening?
I choose wet shoes over you
I had no idea. I needed to break free. I desperately needed a wee, but I DESPERATELY needed to escape John Wayne Gacy. So I winged it.
Now I’m not a fan of impromptu occurrences normally, but under pressure, this leopard can forgo his spots innit. Drawing on all my inherent acting abilities, I seamlessly blurted out “These are nice…. thanks mate” and then stopped dead, to browse through some very nice ladies flannel shirts, that were hanging on a nearby rail.
Perfect execution. Goodbye forever.
The “thanks mate” implied finality. The stopping to browse added distance between us, as he kept on walking. Our paths would cross no more. I would invest in a colostomy bag or commode moving forward. This would never happen to me again. Perfect.
Except for the one minor detail.
He stopped walking too AAARRRGGHHHH! and waited with me, whilst I browsed through pensioner lady wear.
Note to self: It was the “these are nice” wasn’t it? It was construed as conversational, as opposed to resolutely rhetorical. Stupid man not reading the signals.
Oh my Lordy I was in a whole world of pain. I couldn’t think of what else to do, bar clutching my chest and falling to the floor in a feigned heart attack? So out of options and like a lamb to the slaughter, I continued my journey with my new husband in tow. Obviously.
I choose to hide
If the next few moments of my life were a film, they would be played in slow motion. I would be played by Stan Laurel, he by an ANNOYING B*ST*RD THAT WON’T LEAVE ME ALONE.
He held the door open for me, as he walked through. I followed him in and said “thanks“. He smiled. I started to hyperventilate.
Up ahead were two urinals. His and His. I hate fate.
To the right was a cubicle with the door shut. I pushed it. It opened. THANK YOU GOD.
Without thinking I blurted out “as I’m here” and dived in. I locked the door (before he could follow me in) and mouthed many, many swear words, whist flicking the v’s in his general direction. I was exhausted and desperate.
I engaged in the longest wee ever, whilst trying to make ‘I’m having a poo noises’. You know the kind of thing: clattering the toilet seat lid, tearing off toilet paper, wiggling your belt buckle and peeing on the side of the pan, to make less noise. Your every day toilet skulduggery.
Eventually I stopped and listened……Was he still there, or had he gone? I was so wrapped up in my fake deification that I’d stopped paying attention to his whereabouts. School boy error. Perhaps he was stood silently waiting? I listened for sounds of breathing? I couldn’t hear anything? I gave it a few more minutes and then tentatively opened the door. He’d gone.
I washed my hands and scurried back to the safety of my wife. As I searched for her and the kids in the very big garden centre, I simultaneously searched for him, to make damn sure our paths did not cross again.
I must have looked like a mentally deficient ninja skulking through the lawnmowers……. Moral of the story, a person who lines up wellies all willy nilly should be avoided at all costs.
You. Are. Welcome.
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