Sunday, 21 September 2008

Pins and needles

Ever wanted the ground to open up and swallow you? Yes? Well, you're not alone. Yesterday morning in Sainsburys I not only wanted the tiles to open wide and swallow me down, I wanted to disappear up my own exhaust pipe. I was alone (David had taken Mac for a much needed haircut in the Big Boys Barbers) and I had spent a very pleasant hour or so wandering round Sainsburys buying necessities and luxury items - I dithered for a full five minutes in front of the ice cream freezer before deciding that I needed two tubs of different flavours. I had purchased a number of glossy magazines, taken a call from Charlie whilst salivating in the Bakery section and was even on the verge of treating myself to a steaming hot chocolate from Starbucks.

All was well until I got to the till. Cashier With Extremely Long Nails threw my shopping down the conveyor belt and didn't engage in either conversation or eye contact. She informed me of the total of my bill ("Sixty eight fifty five") and held out her talons for both my Nectar card and method of payment - I handed her the joint account card. It was then that disaster struck. I couldn't remember the PIN number.

Nope. Little grey cells not willing to co-operate with my poised finger. Nothing, nada, nish. Cashier With Extremely Long Nails shot me a look and asked if there was a problem. I ignored her and tried to remember the magic number. There's definitely a 4 in it somewhere but the rest of the numbers eluded me. "I can't remember my PIN number" I said in a "silly old me!" tone of voice. "No PIN number?" CWELN raised a bestudded eyebrown. I handed her my own bank card and she swapped them over, looking at me as if I were about to run out of the shop lugging my trolley.

The queue behind me (incidentally, the longest queue in the entire shop) were gazing at me in varying stages of interest and pity. "Enter your pin" CWELN said in a bored tone of voice. "Hah! This PIN is dead simple to remember! I'll show you!" I said to myself and prepared to unleash my finger jabbing technique. Nope, couldn't remember that one either. Bugger.

I was burning hot with mortification at this point - my shopping was mocking me as I glanced down at it in the trolley in the vague hope that my PIN number would somehow be miraculously spelt out for me in the illicit chocolate fingers lurking within. CWELN was now buzzing for a supervisor and the crowd behind me were getting restless. One Dulwich Daddy (tweed jacket with leather elbows, casual jeans and the smell of Old Money) explained very patiently (and loudly) to his precocious child that "the lady hasn't got any money to pay her bill darling". I burned even hotter now and shot him A Look. He held my gaze, secure in the knowledge that his loose change could easily cover my paltry shopping bill. Of course, cold hard cash. I dropped my bag and rummaged round in my purse and came up with the grand total of £12 and most of that in pound coins. "What I always do is, disguise my PIN as a phone number and put it in my mobile under a fake name". This stunning piece of information was given to me by the woman directly behind me in the queue.

"Yes, I do that" I said through clenched teeth. "I can't remember my PIN, well PINs." I added to Dulwich Daddy who had lost interest and was now intently reading the label on his free range vegetarian pasta. "So, get your phone out and everything will be okay!" Woman Directly Behind Me gazed round to the listening throng as if she deserved a medal for stating the bleeding obvious. "My. Phone. Is. At. Home" I hissed. CWELN had now been joined by a twelve year old supervisor.

The decision had been made: Customer Services would hold my shopping whilst I went home to collect my PIN number from my mobile phone. CEWLN was already throwing items belonging to the Woman Directly Behind Me down the conveyor belt. It was then that I saw her. My saviour. My sister. Bea was hovering uncertainly in the shower gel aisle and I heard her ask a passing member of staff in her plummy tones if they had any "original Imperial Leather shower gel? My au pair hasn't showered for a week now".

"BEA!" I bellowed, making the supervisor who was heaving my trolley down to Customer Services jump five feet into the air. "Darling!" she shrieked back, pushing through the hordes of shoppers and air kissing me on both sides of my face. I explained my predicament and she proceeded to shower me with credit cards. The supervisor looked alarmed at this and began the retreat back to the original till. Bea and I followed. The supervisor waylaid another of her colleagues (this one looked barely out of nappies) and it was decided that we should proceed to Customer Services to do the dirty deed. "You can pay me back any time" Bea was now saying airily as we beetled along behind the checkouts. "I'm sorry about this" I grovelled to the supervisor and the Customer Services man. "It needs to be run frew agin" Customer Services pointed out. Back we went to a till, Bea lurching along behind me still waving her plastic. My shopping was emptied out of the bags and re-scanned whilst my beloved sister ran backwards and forwards chucking random items onto the pile. "For Stephen" she said as she threw a packet of wine gums in my last bag. The cashier who had been given the unenviable task of re-scanning my shopping was looking from me to Bea as she beeped my items. "Could this day get any more random?" I asked no-one in particular. Bea fixed me with her baby blues.

"Well, funny you should say that darling, I was only here right at this minute because my acupuncturist fell off a mountain in Wales and can't stand upright let alone stick needles in my cranium and On The Point of Emaciation Now Au Pair has developed an allergy to everything you could possibly wash with apart from Imperial Leather and we haven't a drop in the house"

What was I saying? Of course it could.


Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk said...

Nooo. Horrible horrible. It's a good job you didn't have a child in tow saying 'mummy, why can't we pay?' very very loudly!
I bet it takes a while to go back to the branch too . . .

thebakehouseboy said...

Did exactly the same thing in B&Q last summer, even managed to block two of my cards trying all sorts of numbers.
Gave up and left the stuff at the store, took it as a sign that i should give up on DIY.

The Dotterel said...

Oh, those blasted pins. But it could have been worse, believe me it could. You could have (correctly) entered said pin and still been refused (in spite of knowing you're entirely solvent, credit-worthy and have a character reference from the local parish priest in your pocket). Then Dulwich Daddy would have been smug...

valley girl said...

Amazing how passwords and pins can just fly out of your mind, especially if you're feeling a bit tired and not with it. I remember a flatmate at Uni once totally forgot her cashcard PIN which she'd used for years, and never remembered it again.

Surprised to hear your sis shops in Sainos though - surely she'd trek round the south Circular to Waitrose?

Nunhead Mum of One said...

Tara, I think I'm going to go to Sainsburys New Cross this week......

The Bakehouse Boy.....B&Q terrifies me!

The Dotterel.....oh my word, has that happened to you? Your're right, that is far worse!

Valley Girl.....she does (if Mr Ocado hasn't already delivered) but she's a devil for a Starbucks skinny latte with a shot!

aims said...

Oh the shame of it all! Why don't they make those 'drop through the floor of out shame' trapdoors right at the till? A person could just press a button - drop out of sight and be on their way out the back door without further embarrassment.

I think it's a good idea. It would come in very handy for me on quite a few occasions.

Millennium Housewife said...

Excellent. MH (and haven't I done well on the promise not to stalk?)

Mya said...

Your sister sounds fantastic. I'm sure if I did the same, mine would just tell me to put all the stuff back - and stop being such a flake.
But I was a really annoying little sister.

Mya x

that girl ? said...

Great post! I have bad memories from my local Sainsburys.. some woman shoved me for talking by the carrots once! I like to think it was cos she had bad eyesight, couldn't see me and therefore needed the carrots but I suspect not! She was scary!

Anonymous said...

That Sainsbury's is such a mixed experience for us - it's near the house and full of goodies (as opposed to the New Cross branch) but it's so full of people like Dulwich Daddy that I feel terribly sloppy every time we do a grocery shop. Sometimes just to avoid having to touch up my makeup before buying the weekly groceries, I drive five minutes extra to the Sainsburys in Forest Hill/Sydenham. It's massive and there are enough queues to lose yourself in, on the off chance that you do something like not just forget your PIN, but your cards altogether. When I did that before, they acted like it was old hat and saved my shopping while I sped home to retrieve my purse. So embarassing!

rosiero said...

Oh, I get senile moments too when I cannot remember a PIN and look like I'm trying to con the shop out of something. I always feel my face and neck getting redder and redder and feel guilty for all the sins of the world, when in fact it is just a case of simple temporary amnesia.

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Nunhead, London, United Kingdom
I'm a mum of one, wife of one and owner to several dogs, a variety of breeds and sizes. I live in the up and coming area (or so they say) of Nunhead and have mad neighbours, strange friends and certifiable relatives. I shop locally, although I do defect to Sainsburys once a week - shoot me now local shopkeepers.