It was during the journey home from Christchurch last night, the same journey I have made for the past several Tuesday and Thursdays, I stopped in at the Rolleston New World to be confronted with quite the medley of peculiarities.
As I pulled into my usual park at around eight p.m., I took some time arranging my various bags and clothing items in the passenger seat, flicked on the inside light to perform a cursory presentation check, took another long swig of water before scanning the surrounding area and finally, disembarking. I found it strange to see the number of, what appeared to be loitering teenagers, carrying their scooters or skateboards but doing nothing of related activities, in the near-freezing car park; just killing time on a Thursday night.
Suddenly I heard a scream – which on second thoughts might have been high pitched laughter. I glanced toward the sound. One of the teenagers was female and seemed to have become the subject of a game of ‘keep-away’. For the next few seconds I watched and listened, checking for signs of genuine distress but to be fair to the girl, I don’t believe even she knew whether she was laughing or screaming.
I sauntered though the front door of the supermarket, past the Lotto counter where despite being unmanned and clearly shut down for the day a middle-aged woman stood waiting to be served; I then fetched a basket from the stack and emerged on the fresh produce section. Here, two hard green avocadoes along with a bunch of fresh bananas took my fancy, then around to the bulk bins where my Thursday night friend Alison likes to lay in wait. (In truth I don’t know her name – I don’t think it’s Alison anyway – but the way she spends her time wiping the bins of Alison’s Pantry, that was the logical sobriquet to bestow upon her.) Once I’ve fumbled around $60 worth of differing variety of nuts into identical bags marked with illegibly printed numbers, all the while making small-talk with Alison, I move on.
Several more products go into the basket – rolled oats, cat food, soap, bread, etc – until, as usual, I’m considering that I perhaps should have fetched a trolley instead. Nevertheless, left arm at breaking point, I make my way around the final few aisles.
I see a girl. She’s young. She’s wearing the New World garb – but she’s positioned atop a rickety-looking chair near the end of the row. I approach tentatively. She doesn’t appear aware of my presence. In fact she appears unaware of anything except the aisle directly across from her. I draw closer still, intrigued by this apparently mesmerised store clerk. I see red tape on the floor, supposedly marking out a spot in front of the area where the girl’s vision is fixated. I am there now. I rest my basket on the floor. I look at the girl sitting on the chair, ankles crossed, hands in her lap, and ask, “What are you, in, time out?”
She glances up, smiles, and says, “No, I’m guarding the baby formula.”
“Well,” I say, “I’m glad someone is … Why?”
Unflinchingly she responds, “It’s just in case somebody tries to poison it.”
My mind flashes back to what feels like about three years ago, when some idiot threatened to spike baby formula with 1080 poison if our Government didn’t halt efforts to eradicate possums by disseminating the aforementioned toxin over the land.
Far as I know, and affirmed by this New World supermarket worker, no one has run into any trouble with the baby formula and the only thing that such a senseless threat has achieved, as well as besmirching the reputation of our product across the world, was to add tedium to the working lives of a number of minimum wage supermarket employees.
Good work, dickhead.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Lona Lee Gorl
Photography by Dee Kidded-Threat