OK, I never thought for a moment that I deserved a medal for saving a child’s life, but come on …
The Bank Holiday weekend was just three days long, but in the supermarket where I was working you’d think it was the end of the world. Bad tempered people were using their trolleys like battering-rams as they descended like locusts on anything on wasn’t super-glued to the shelf. Every checkout had a line snaking back down the aisles and every face was twisted in an angry impatient snarl. Glares came like darts at anyone who remotely resembled a member of staff because it was obviously our fault that the sun was shining and they had to endure this dreadful waste of their precious time.
Because of the sheer volume of customers, every spare member of staff was at the tills helping to pack bags and assist in any way we could. I had just finished packing one lady’s bags and she was about to leave when I glanced around at the checkout behind me.
The woman there had obviously bought a broom and put it in her trolley because the little boy in the seat was sucking on the end of it. And it took a moment before I suddenly realized that the child was in distress. His face was turning blue and his eyes were as big as saucers.
It was obvious the broom handle was choking him so I shot over and pulled it away from him. The child sucked in a huge gulp of air and flung his arms up. Then he gave the most horrendous scream.
The mother dropped everything as she dived on him and wrapped her arms around him. ‘What are you doing to my child?’ she howled. ‘What are you doing, you pervert?’
She spun around in a circle as she tried to involve anyone that caught her eye.
‘He’s trying to grab my child. Help me. Help me. That pervert is trying to hurt my child.’
Fortunately for me the hordes of impatient people trying to squeeze through the narrow space behind the tills were only interested in getting out of there and going home to enjoy the sunshine, so they kept their heads down and ignored her totally.
I put my hands up and tried to explain what happened, using my calmest voice to try and pacify the woman. But she was in no mood to listen. She was enjoying the drama too much, as if she was in a scene from Eastenders. No one was going to snap her out of it. She drooled venom, flexed her tattoos and screamed at the cashier, who had no idea what was going on. ‘Get security, you stupid cow.’
The cashier looked at me and rolled her eyes.
‘Look, let me explain …’ I tried to say. But the tsunami of foul language that billowed from the woman’s painted mouth would have made a Royal Navy stoker blush.
I knew from experience that the only way to dampen this kind of fire was to just walk away. So I wandered off to the canteen and had a coffee.