PREVIOUSLY IN “THE CHECKOUT GIRL” ANECDOTE: I fancied the big-nosed Polish girl from Sainsbury’s, bought t-shirt to impress her, went shopping, bought a tonne of crap, she wasn’t there. Then she turned up, I bought a tonne more crap, went to checkout, everything I bought was shaped like a dong, she noticed the t-shirt, said it made her day, I had nothing to say, so smiled and ran away. AND NOW THE THRILLING CONCLUSION…

It couldn't possibly go wrong, right?
It couldn’t possibly go wrong, right?

I know what you’re thinking. After reading part one of this story, I’m totally in with this Polish girl, right? I thought so too. I was on eight meals a day for a couple of days to get rid of the food I’d had to buy last time I visited Ilona, and then I was ready to go back by the Friday night – without the t-shirt. This time I checked she was on-duty before filling my basket so I didn’t waste any money on “chick stuff”. I approached Ilona’s checkout with a basket that said “I’m single but I know my way around a kitchen, and a woman.”

I got a smile from her when I was a whole two people away in the queue. The t-shirt had made the right impression. Right, I had to play it cool; I had a nice new shirt on, to show her I could pull off the smart look just as well as the Polish-stalker casual look. Nothing could go wrong. I didn’t even have to say anything, just say hello, smile a bit more, maybe some smalltalk – anything to build on my groundbreaking performance the previous visit. And if she did talk to me, I had every scenario prepared, even down to “Really? You’re Polish? I had no idea. Oh that’s why you noticed that t-shirt I just threw on randomly the other day. What a coincidence. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!! Do you want to go for a drink with me?”

She said hi to me, and we smiled at each other and made smalltalk. She smiled shyly, as if she had totally made the connection that I like Polish girls and she was Polish and so I probably fancied her. She was probably looking for an opportunity to ask me out or slip me a card that said “”Ilona – Checkouts” and her number along with my receipt.

This time I’d made no mistakes with the shopping; in that there was nothing cock-shaped in my basket whatsoever. Just the kind of perfectly normal things a homely domesticated, and yet still slightly rugged man would buy on a Friday night. And for added ruggedness there was a bottle of premium Tequila, to demonstrate I was the kind of guy who liked my drink like I like my women – strong and with an unpleasant aftertaste.

She lovingly scanned through my items and gently handed me two carrier bags (I’ve seen her throw them at people normally, she must have adored me). I packed everything neatly into the bags, taking great care to put everything in the right place and not have anything awkwardly sticking out or digging into the sides – this demonstrated to her that I’d do the same thing in the bedroom.

As I’d paid cash last time, I wanted to show her I was not only a cash-rich potential suitor but also had a line of credit with a leading international bank, so I purposefully showed her my Bank of Scotland Visa card (covering up the bit that said DEBIT) before slotting it into the machine, once again very carefully and making sure I wasn’t pushing it in too roughly or damaging the sensitive outer rim.

It had been a pleasant experience. Not a huge amount of progress was made, but I was assuredly building the foundations on which I would soon ask her out, and then eventually marry her.

I took hold of my bags and said goodbye, she smiled shyly again. As I picked up the bags there was a terrifying crashing sound and all of my goods dropped onto her checkout. The bags she’d given me – both bags – were completely ripped at the bottom. My entire shop was now strewn all over the place, covered in broken glass.

And tequila.

My image as a domestic yet rugged husband-material love god flaked away, and I was left looking like a clumsy alcoholic.

Ilona apologised and hailed someone to get the cleaners, and to go and get me a new bottle. I told her it was fine, I just wanted to get the fuck out of there as quickly as possible. But she made me wait, with a whole queue of frustrated other shoppers, on another bottle of tequila. “What kind was it” the supermarket gopher with one eye bigger than the other said. I simply lifted up the fragment of glass with the label still stuck to it and held it up to him.

It’s not one of those situations you prepare for really. What will I say if I smash a bottle of tequila all over my sweetheart in the middle of a busy supermarket on a Friday night? I just stood there getting redder and redder. Ilona kept apologising, saying it wasn’t my fault and it happens all the time. Really? People get t-shirts printed in a foreign language to break the ice with checkout girls then just as things are going well they shower them with glass and booze? As the lackey arrived with my replacement bottle and I finished repacking my drenched goods, I couldn’t help but think the limes I bought, now pre-drenched in tequila, were a bit of a timesaver.

A characteristically nosy Scottish woman in the queue behind me suddenly piped in, “Ye shouldnae drink that stuff son, I mean, look at the smell of it.”

Were I not so shamed I would have replied “Listen, old hag, firstly mind your own fucking business or I’ll ram your shopping so far down your throat, you’ll be pulling bits of Bombay mix out of your private parts for the next 5 years, and secondly, you can’t fucking look at a smell.” I’m glad I didn’t correct her though as I then realised I could swear I saw the air rippling above my tequila spillage…

I got my stuff and ran away. All I had wanted to do was make myself memorable to Ilona with the t-shirt. Now I had but for all the wrong reasons.

Sadly, I actually never saw her in Sainsbury’s ever again. I don’t know if she left because of me, or maybe just moved on, but it was a hell of a coincidence given I’d seen her there every visit for about a year. I’ve since seen her a couple of times around the local area though. Part of me wants to go up and chat to her and somehow salvage things, pick up the broken pieces of our potential love (or ask someone to clean up the broken pieces and send someone for a replacement). “Hey you used to work in Sainsbury’s right? Do you remember me?” She’d say “Um, were you the t-shirt guy or the tequila guy?”

I had a strange thought on the way home that night. What about the people around me in the queue, when they went home stinking of tequila. “Roy, what took you so long at the supermarket, and what’s that smell? Have you been drinking again? You told me it was over; you promised me you’d change. Right, I’m taking the kids, this is the last straw, I can’t live like this anymore!” How many relationships were destroyed that night I’ll never know, but one other thought has always been on my mind since…

Colleague: “Ilona, here comes that prick that wore the t-shirt.”

Ilona: “Good. Have you got any scissors?”

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2 Comments

  1. I loved the ‘Look at the smell of it,’ statement. It’s quite poetic when you think about it.

    I’m surprised that you had waiting time and an easy route into the subject of alcohol and didn’t ask her if she wanted to go for a drink. Preferably one contained in a glass rather than the one that was dissolving the adhesive that the flooring was secured with.

    Of course none of that would have happened if you had stuck to buying just a Pot Noodle and a bottle of red.

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