Sometimes you can't help overhearing conversations. Even one-way ones. Occasionally the one-way ones are even more interesting, because having to imagine the unheard replies makes you listen even closer.
It was late morning on a warm, overcast autumn day. I stood at the checkout queue by the customer service desk at the Rye store of one of the two major supermarkets. While I waited I daydreamed out the front window towards the beach across the road.
A voice behind the service desk brought my attention back inside. It was a middle-aged staff member, talking on the phone, obviously to the store manager. She looked flustered.
"A customer is coming to see you. She was here about an hour ago. She bought about six bags of shopping," the staff member was saying. "She rang the store a few minutes ago. I answered the phone. I've just hung up. She wants to bring it all back."
Pause. It was the manager's turn to speak.
The staff lady again: "Everything. She said she had shopped for lunch, and when she got home her guests had cancelled, and now she wants to bring everything back. And she wants a refund."
"It's all fresh food. I told her the money back guarantee was if you're not satisfied with the quality of the products, not if your guests don't turn up or cancel. She wouldn't listen."
"Fresh bread, cheese, cold meat, salami, pate, cold chicken, oysters, prawns, that kind of thing. Fresh fruit, milk, juice, and a few other things. Couple of hundred dollars. I told her we'd have to throw it straight in the skip, because we can't resell fresh food. She said that was our problem, and she didn't care what we did with it, and she just wanted her money back ... "
"No, she wouldn't listen. Then she said we could afford it more than she could. She's on her way back right now with her shopping. She'll be here in about five minutes. She wants to see you and demand a full refund. She'll probably tell you I was rude."
"Thanks. I'll call you as soon as she arrives."
She hung up, looking relieved. By now I'd moved forward to a checkout. It was five to twelve. I left the store. But I did think about waiting around for the showdown.
Look at that big hand move along
Nearin’ high noon.