Watching the placing of everything and everything placed

Tesco Winchester. Never-ending tills.
Image by :Duncan via Flickr

People watching can often reveal a slice of somebody else’s life even when only observed for a  few minutes.

I hoofed it through the morning snow to the supermarket to get a few supplies. The middle aged man in front of me had started unloading his shallow trolley onto the checkout conveyor belt and his idiosyncratic behaviour quickly caught my eye. As soon as he put two bags of potatoes onto the belt he then spent an inordinate amount of time rearranging the individual spuds through the plastic packaging containing them. Turning them , flattening the potatoes, moving back to the trolley with a worrying eye still on their status. This went on for each foodstuff. Clearly there was a place for everything and everything in its place. The process was both fascinating and worrying to watch.

Bagging the items and putting them back on the trolley required an equally intricate checking and rechecking akin to a constant checking of the locked status of the back door or whether the gas hob has actually been turned off.

For a moment myself and the patient checkout woman exchanged an eyebrow-arching glance at each other ,perhaps wondering how far this OCD-esque fussing impinged on this man’s life in ways other than this.

Then he paid in cash followed by then laying down his debit card in order to get back more cash.

People.They come in all variations.


One thought on “Watching the placing of everything and everything placed

  1. Fascinating but also worrying. One is tempted to say he needs to get out more 🙂

    I once served a man at the library who was taking out books he had already taken out many times before. He requested, quite seriously, that I place the date stamp on the date label exactly straight and vertically aligned with the previous dates. I did my best (date stamps are not precision instruments) but it didn’t satisfy him and hearing his outburst you would have thought I had just gravely damaged his personal property.

    It is hard for us (well, me) to imagine how important these seemingly trivial matters are to such people.

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