I returned my trolley to the trolley bay, turned to jog back to Rio the Clio, and almost collided with the trolley attendant.
“Thank you!” he said unexpectedly. I looked around for a moment and concluded, from the absence of other people in the immediate area, that he was talking to me.
“I didn’t do anything,” I pointed out.
“You smiled,” he said. “You realise you’re the first person to acknowledge my existence all day?”
“Erm…” I could sense another Bizarre Conversation in the not-too-distant future, and was torn between wanting to participate in it for the purpose of gathering fresh blog material, and the slightly stronger desire to get into my car, where there was a Starbucks’ cuppuccino resting appealingly in the cup holder. It didn’t matter, because apparently the conversation was going to happen regardless of my decision.
“I’ve been outside all morning, in the freezing cold and the rain, and you’re the first person to even notice I’m here,” he said mournfully. “Mostly I just dodge cars and try not to get run over by people running back to the trolley bay. Do you know know, people don’t even bother putting the trolley back if they see me nearby? They’ll just sort of shove it in my direction and walk off.”
I felt sad for the Tesco Trolley Attendant. He seemed like a nice guy, if a little strange.
“Well,” I said, encouragingly, “at least you don’t have to sit at a checkout all day, right? Better to be out here, getting a bit of fresh air, sunshine and exercise, not having to listen to whining customers and screaming children.” Embarrassingly, a blast of icy-cold air cut through my words, and it suddenly start to rain. “I think it would probably be an insult to your intelligence if I continued with what I was just saying,” I added, thoughtfully.
He looked sadly at me.
“Erm… I’d better get back to my car,” I said, somewhat guiltily. “Nice to talk to you.”
“And you,” he replied, putting up his hood and turning back to the trolley bay. “Thanks for smiling.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been thanked for smiling before. It’s hard to know what to do with that. I went back to my car, deep in thought, began negotiating my way out of the car park, and took a long swig of coffee. I was decidedly distracted.
I had to swerve at the last second to avoid hitting the Tesco Trolley Attendant.