Sunday, 15 August 2010

All hell

To the Post Office yesterday morning to sort out a Zip card for my daughter. All human life is there - especially on Holloway Road. We started to wait in a queue for change for the Photo Me machine before realising that we would need more than our lifetimes in order to get anywhere near the desk, and so (after exchanging a few good-natured words with an old lady) went to a nearby newsagent to get the change, returning a few moments later to finish the photo session.

It was after we joined the main queue to submit the form that the fun really began. Really, I've been in worse Post Office queues in my time; although only 3 counters were open, the line was moving reasonably quickly, and there were about four people in front of us.

'Cashier number 8 please,' came the jaunty voice from the machine. The man at the front moved quickly forward, but then a middle-aged black woman suddenly appeared out of nowhere and stepped up to the free window.

'Excuse me,' said the man incensed, 'There's a queue here!' and he gestured with his arm behind him. The black woman said nothing but pointed at a sheet of A4 paper stuck to the window, which informed all that this was a Passport Check and Send window, and as such customers were given special exemption from joining the queue.

'Cashier number 7 please.' The man moved to the adjacent free window and said:

'Don't show me that, you stupid prat! It's not fair, I've been standing here for 20 minutes!'
'You're a prat!' said the woman, 'Read the sign.'
'I read the sign.'
'Shut up!'
'You shut up!'
'Fuck off!'
'You fuck off!'
'You fuck your mother!'
'You're a cunt!'
'You're a cunt! Look in the mirror, you'll see a cunt!'

This went on for several minutes, and surprisingly, given the vehemence of the words being spoken, the two who were arguing did not seem to be nearing an escalation to physical violence. It was almost as if this were a game that they were enjoying playing. The people in the Post Office looked on with differing reactions. Some were amused and some were shocked, and yet nobody did anything about it. The man finished his business and walked quickly out, while the woman continued her check and send.

As we left, the children said to me:

'Daddy, what's a cunt?'

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