Sainsbury's. Tweve minutes past doom. Waiting in line for damnation, waiting for the moment to be free, watching the heels in front. Watching them shuffle ever-so-slowly forwards. Seeing the hope of redemption as the money is taken out. Anticipating imminent deliverence as bags are produced. The till-operator smiling a toothy obsequience. Tutting, awkward avoidance of eye-contact. Sighs from the rear and heavy hearts. Dimming light, dimming hope. A missed bus sailing away as time spirals out of mind.....
Sound familiar? I sincerely hope so, otherwise it might just be me who has to temper rage at moments like these. Oh, I know we are at fault. I recognise the behavioral defect at play. All those wasted lessons drilled into us as children by our parents. Maybe Philip Larkin was right, though . Maybe your parents do fill you with the faults they had. But, the message still resonates, even if the procedure for accommodation eludes us at even a moment's notice, usually in the most trivial situations. The thing is, it's easy to adopt casual subversiveness, usually without any thought process. A bit like casual racism, but without the social stigma. Because...... well, because we all fall victim. And are ourselves victims. It's just that we won't admit it to each other. It's a contraction. A contraction of the self. Besides, open admissions of this kind of frailty lead to conflict - and who wants that in a public convenience facility? I say 'convenience' with my fists clenched. Usually this happens as I count the items in the trolley of the person in front of me as I sneer at their choices, look at my own and gloat. Them : bositang, casu marzu, muktuk, century eggs and maggot cheese. Me : khash, tuna eyeballs, hakarl, stinkheads and wasp crackers. Oh, what competitive fun there is to be had on the grocery aisle. If you look, there is even religious experience, if that's your thing. Not mine, but each to their own, after all. And as some who would claim divine presence everywhere would say, 'What a friend we have in cheeses.' For which I apologise. There is no justifiable excuse for punning about food. Food is serious stuff, to some. Or so I am led to believe. Something almost beyond pleasure, like an elixir.
So, patience. Forbearance. Stoicism, with maybe a dash of pragmatism. Or even a pinch of puritanism. Control, above all. Perspective. A realisation that the dithering twerp in front who can't find his or her switch-card and who then spends ten minutes rummaging in a bottomless pit of a bag isn't, after all, the devil. They may act like Satan, despite the humble disguise, but no. Probably they are cringing as they delve. Perhaps they might even vocalise their regret. Sorry for holding everyone up, they will intone, smiling weakly. Sorry, everyone. Sorry for ruining your up-to-this-point-of-departure exhilarating shopping experience. Sorry, sorry. Awfully sorry. Maybe Beelzebub does go shopping, too.
None of which makes any of us likely to commit murder. But the thought does flicker tantalisingly across the cerebral cortex. Not long enough to spur us to disastrous and possibly criminal action, but oh.... just for a split-second, what a warm feeling it gives us as we languish in the desire to kill. Personally, I want to strangle, which is why I would make a terrible axe-murderer. Too messy. Too much blood. Too much mopping up to do afterwards for the poor traumatised checkout operator. It might also be my vegetarian inclinations manifesting, although, as someone once said, if God had meant us all to to be herbivores, how come lions don't eat grass? Perhaps it's a truism at work. Our intellect has overpowered our instinct and now, we have too many choices and not enough discernment. Maybe that's the fate of the world, right there, or it's fixed nature at work.
It's society's fault, of course. The society we have made for ourselves. We made all this rage happen. All this impatience and inconsideration is our doing, our fault, our burden. The thing is, we can't shake it off. We tell ourselves in those brief calm moments we steal as the hubbub rumbles all around us. We tell ourselves that John Paul Sartre's existentialism was and is wrong. Hell isn't other people. It's us. We're stuck in the supermarket queue, looking for either the axe or the exit sign. So, steal yourself for your next encounter with your inexplicable rage. Try counting, if it helps. Do what you need to do to ground yourself in the reality of now, whatever that might mean. Smile, if you can. Resist the urge to cause a scene. Or commit murder. And above all, keep a look-out for persons bearing sharp tree-felling implements on the gluten-free aisle. One of them might just be me.
A place of endless wonder without dragons. The home of the dodgy dialectic. A sanctuary for the frustrated and the terminally curious. Where debate meets damnation and humour lurks to surprise the unwary. From critical acclaim to diatribe. Don't be scared - come along for the ride.