A New Nemesis

Back in the UK, it was the traffic lights at the top of our road…

Despite leaving home a few minutes early or even speeding up a little on my approach in a race to beat them, those damn signals always seemed to switch from green to amber just a second or two before I could claim it was too late to stop. Once again, I’d find myself sitting for an extra three minutes resenting the cars allowed across in front of me, each and every one becoming an extra obstacle between me and my destination…

With hindsight and the perspective of distance, stressing over stuff like that was perhaps symptomatic of the life we’ve tried to leave behind. Here in Turkey, we don’t yet have a car and, even if we did, queues of “traffic” in the village are rare and mostly caused by columns of tourists on quad bikes – or even the occasional camel.

But, despite a slower pace and fewer of the pressures associated with modern Western society, I’ve still found a new Nemesis – and she resides behind the checkout at the local supermarket. For the sake of argument, let’s call her “Irma”…

It’s not that there isn’t a friendly greeting or even a smile. It’s just that, almost as soon as you begin to place your items on the conveyer next to the till, a steely glint enters Irma’s eye.

Like a gunslinger waiting to draw, she seems to wait for the precise moment you’re off-guard or distracted – and then her hands blur as she begins to hurl your groceries into the bagging area.

So far, I’ve been caught out every time; I’ve been trying to open plastic bags in readiness for packing; I’ve been stuck shop-side of Bec in the narrow checkout aisle; I’ve even been waiting politely for the previous shopper to clear their purchases. Without warning, the avalanche begins.

Fingers are at risk as cans cannon down the slide; I’ve even learned to use fruit or bread as a barrier, giving my own frantic hands room to work. But, so far, I’ve never managed to match Irma’s furious pace and I’ve looked up to see her, arms folded, waiting for us to finish clearing the debris so she can move on to her next victim.

It’s going to take time and dedication. I may have to practice at home. But, one day, I’m determined to have all the shopping in the bags, the right money ready and a cocky smile on my face by the time Irma looks up for payment.

By then – at least in Irma’s eyes – maybe I’ll have earned the right to be considered a local …



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