How has it come to this

by | Aug 29, 2015 | Look Out, Sketches

It was a woman at the checkout buying coconut oil. She had put it in her bag, with all the other groceries she was purchasing when she noticed that the seal on the bottle underneath the screw top lid containing the coconut oil had come loose. Why she had decided to check this I do not know. Why she chose to do it at the checkout, thereby holding me and any number of people up I also do not know.

“‘I’ll just go back and get a replacement,’” she said to the checkout girl. What could the checkout girl do? The lady in front of me sighed. She was a polite middle class lady who would not want to create a fuss and, upon reflection, could very well have been a part of a double act. Their appearance was almost identical, not their features you understand, the centre of attention was much older. It was the way they were turned out, they were in perfect harmony, down to the boots. Looking back on it now, it unnerves me.

I was next in line, and at the risk of appearing culturally meaningless in these post modern times, when the appearance of something is at least as important as the importance of something, my presentation was one of a series of chaotic arrangements. I just wanted milk.

She returned a few minutes later with three more bottles of coconut oil and, I suppose, to be sure, checked all of them for leaks, their seals for firm contact, the lids for who knows what. She’d take one of them and the checkout girl, new to it all, would have to take the surplus back to the shelves.

The aggrieved woman had now lost her purse, or at least she couldn’t currently lay her hands on it. Now things were serious. In all the confusion, the mayhem of arriving at the checkout with a weeks supply of groceries only to have a bottle of coconut oil with a broken seal, she was now in short supply of money to pay for it all.

She became flustered, the woman in front of me, still polite, how she must be a joy to live with, endured, saying nothing, smiling at the checkout girl, who would one day look back on this as a character building exercise. I’d had enough.

“‘Broken seals on coconut oil bottles will throw you right off your day.’”

“‘Excuse me?’” The fumbling customer retorted, she rummaged,  smiling at me through her newly acquired teeth, she had found her money. Sweet mercy. Death had let me down. I couldn’t come back from it. Le Dolce Vita had gone too far. Now we wanted seals on all our bottles so that we can be sure that no one has tampered with our coconut oil as it makes it’s way from Ecuador, the Solomon Islands, Nigeria, where the growers of the coconut trees are paid barely enough to survive the day let alone the next downturn, travelling through it’s numerous processes just so that some woman in suburbia can complain that the seal is broken and therefore unable to be consumed.

“‘Broken seals,’ I repeated. ‘They can wreak havoc with coconut oil.’”