Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Heffalump Child confronted

I went shopping today. I went to the supermarket and for the umpteenth week running, they were out of rice pasta and wheat/vinegar-free whole-grain mustard. I asked a shelf-stacker about both items. She didn't know, it wasn't her responsibility, the head office did the ordering, they were never having it in. "Never?" I asked in surprise. "It never came in" she qualified. "Oh right, well thank you" and I continued with my list.

I walked out of the end of the aisle and caught the eye of a woman who stared at me with a half smile and the whisper of a head-shake. I smiled cheerfully back, thinking maybe she'd heard the exchange and was sympathising. She didn't return the smile and I suddenly wondered whether I'd been standing in her way while I was conducting my blood-from-stone questioning, or had unwittingly taken the last pack of chicken breasts or something.

Being me, I was slightly rattled, and carried on worrying about it all the way round the shop, but I couldn't come to any conclusion. As I walked home, the sharp corner of the plastic egg-box ripped a hole in the side of the plastic bag and sliced my leg, producing rather more blood than I would have expected. I had to let it run, having both hands and a shoulder full of bags.

I checked the post drop to find that the postman had tried to deliver just a few minutes earlier, and now I was going to have to battle with the wretched post office telephone system to get the parcel redelivered, knowing that I was going to fail and have to spend 40 minutes queuing in the Post Office the following day. All in all, my view of the brightness of the day had somehow dimmed.

As I walked in through the door, laden with groceries, dropping mail and still dribbling blood, Heffalump Child suddenly tipped a box of house bricks onto the floor directly above my head. I jumped, and how I didn't drop the wretched eggs I have no idea. Well actually I do, it was because I had them on the bag half-way up my arm and I would have had to drop everything else first. But that was it. Once the groceries had been disposed of into various chilling compartments, and my leg made to look less frightening to small children, I grabbed the keys and went upstairs before I had the chance to calm down.

Heffalump Child's mother is young, Australian, very sweet and very pregnant. Heffalump Child is a little girl of about 4. She'll be the one running around. Her smaller brother (henceforth to be known as Wooden Blocks, because those were what he was swiping with great energy off his little table and onto the marble floor) must be around 2. Number 3 will be making an appearance fairly shortly if looks are anything to go by. I have a number of nicknames dreamed up for it, but let's just say that I hope it doesn't fit any of them.

I explained very apologetically why I had come up, and HC's and WB's mother was equally apologetic, saying that she hadn't thought about how it must sound below. I asked whether WB could play on a carpet maybe, and she said yes, and indicated a big thick carpet about 3 feet from where he was sitting. HC then demanded mamma's attention and with mutually understanding, and of course, apologetic smiles, we parted.

Since then all has been quiet. I called the post office and miraculously managed to speak to a real person, after being told first that nobody was available to take my call, then that the number I had typed in was invalid, and then that I had exceeded the maximum number of attempts. I was about to hang up in resignation when a bright voice came on the line and asked how she could help me. I explained, apologetically, and arranged the redelivery. I also explained, apologetically, the disagreements that her phone system and I had been having. She said I'd been redirected to the central number. I suggested that maybe the central number should be printed on the delivery slip instead of the branch number which was never answered. She didn't realise that it wasn't. She hadn't known that branch system didn't work. She would get onto it. She was like a breath of fresh air.

So. Why is it these days, that in order to succeed in one's intentions, one first has to be frustrated so many times? I can see that this just happens sometimes in life. But what I can't understand is why anyone would deliberately programme an automated system to work the same way.

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