Somerfield is the larger of the two supermarkets we have in Nairn, but is of course now owned by the operator of the other smaller supermarket - the Co-op; it has a limited range of merchandise because of its limited floorspace - the prices aren't that great either. One might have thought that 'customer service' would be paramount, specially when rival Sainsbury may get final approval soon (I hope!) to open a largish edge-of-town supermarket here, or even to encourage people to do a little shopping here meantime, rather than popping off to Forres or Inverness for everything. But no, such considerations do not seem to apply in the surreal world of Somerfield.
So, what has set me off today? I was up in town a short while ago to do a little shopping; I did think when heading for the roundabout in my car that I might just carry straight on and visit Tesco in Forres, but decided to turn right instead and be 'loyal' and keep the small amount I planned to spend for a local outlet, although of course I bought things I don't really need in addition. In retrospect I should should have gone to Forres!
Bill potters around Somerfield, gets his Telegraph, his Nairnshire (the local 'rag', published weekly on a Tuesday [I was indisposed yesterday]), his Radio Times for next week's TV/radio listings) and continues around the store putting a few other items in his basket (some fruit, some mozzarella, some fish etc) and the fateful item - a bottle of sherry of the amontillado variety. At the check-out the young lady (I've already realised she is a rather sullen young person who gave neither the previous customer nor me the merest glimmer of recognition and whose name as shown on her name-badge I shall refrain from recording here, only 'cause basically I'm a nice guy[+]) picks up the bottle and rather than scan it, turns her head to attract the attention of one of the other check-out assistants (a middle-aged lady I've seen there before) and points out the bottle to her, the latter nods briefly and my check-out assistant proceeds to scan the bottle. I had, at that stage, no idea what was going on and asked her 'what was all that about?' in what I hope was a quizzical, but humourous, tone. She, without hardly glancing at me to respond then said "can only sell alochol to people over 18". No "I" or even "We" you notice - basically verbal 'texting' language in other words.
I then innocently asked her "Do you think I don't look 18?" - no response, other than a sullen shrug of the shoulders. I then said "Well, there must be a lot more[*] wrong with your eyes. I wish I was only 18, but sadly that's not the case." A sullen glare from the check-out assistant and more shrugging of the shoulders was all I got from her, accompanied fortunately by a chuckle of wry amusement from the next customer who happened to be a middle-aged sari-clad Indian lady who is, I have no doubt, a veteran of much more serious abuse than that to which I had been subjected in the name of 'just following orders' (where have I heard that before) and worse, without the exercise of any sort of judgement whatsoever.
For the record I am 57 years old, not 'old looking' for my age certainly, but I doubt that anyone on the planet could reasonably confuse me with a sub-18 year old! Perhaps in my mid-20s (33 or 34 years ago) that might have been a reasonable cause for doubt, but since I turned 30 even I, in my vainer moments, would be forced to accept that would have been fanciful. Like many westerners in recent generations I've never had to do physical labour in my life and as I have never smoked and drink alcohol fairly moderately I have probably 'aged well' - but unfortunately, and completely incontrovertibly to all but the completely sightless, not THAT well.
[+] But not that nice after all, I find. You can find her name easily enough if you know the alphabet as these are the letters of her name - 11 1 25 1 - according to their order in the alphabet.
[*] She wore spectacles, as do I.