I work Saturdays in a shop on H____ Road in Hull. Let’s call the shop Oddbury’s. Every Saturday I write down the funny things I hear. These are real conversations with real people about the things they’re buying and what they mean to them. Names have been changed to protect people’s identities. Paul is my co – worker.
Saturday 6th Feb 2016, 12:05pm Scottish Malcolm 53, unemployed, Margaret 44, care worker and Paul 59, shop assistant
Margaret: I’m looking for something to get the weeds out of my patio – you know where they sprout up between the flag stones? And we’ve got some on the drive too but that’s got – well, I don’t know how to describe it but like…
Paul: You need a flame thrower.
Margaret: A flame thrower? Well I haven’t got one of those have I?
Paul: (Rolls his eyes) Then you’ll need this stuff – follow me.
(He paces to the other side of the shop very purposefully and Margaret has to trot to keep up with him)
Paul: This is the stuff (proffering something that looks like screen-wash in a frosted blue 1 litre plastic bottle). It’s brilliant. Do any job that. Kill absolutely anything.
Scottish Malcolm (from last week’s post) enters the shop loudly clattering his shopping bags through the doorway.
Scottish Malcolm: Paul! Where’s Paul! (Then to me) – those Christmas lights did’nae work.
Me: You brought them back?
Scottish Malcolm: What for?
Me: For a refund if they’re broken.
Scottish Malcolm: Och nae- they’re nae broken. They just did’nae work like. I did’nae get a shag out of it! Where’s Paul?
Spying Paul he strides over.
Scottish Malcolm: Paul, those Christmas lights were a waste of money.
Paul: (Ignoring him, carries on serving Margaret). Do you know what the best thing for killing mice is?
Margaret: (Bemused by this turn in the conversation) A mouse trap?
Paul: Ha! (as if that were a ridiculous thing to suggest). No, this stuff – the same stuff you use on your weeds.
(In a conspiratorial whisper): You put a cap full of it out on the night, before you go to bed. Then, during the night they come out and take a drink of it – it’s sweet you see – they like the taste of it. Then when you wake up in the morning they’re all lying around the cap, kind of asleep like.
Scottish Malcolm: Asleep?
Paul: Yeah – well -dead mainly. It burns a hole in their stomach and their intestines fall out.
Scottish Malcolm: Disgusting.
Paul: I can’t stand them either.
Scottish Malcolm: I mean it’s animal cruelty. But, hey, do you suppose it gets them pissed?
Paul: I don’t think so. I think it just damages them.
Scottish Malcolm: Do you think humans can get away with drinking it?
Paul: (Surprised) I wouldn’t have thought so. I mean it’s quite dangerous to…
Scottish Malcolm: Aye, nae, you’re right, probably not. (Holding a bottle of it thoughtfully) I’m just thinking off the top of my head, like. I mean, it’s quite cheap.
Margaret: (Exasperated) Will it do my bloody patio?
Paul: Definitely. Yes… And kill mice too.
Margaret: Then that’s all I need to know.
Scottish Malcolm: I’ll take a bottle too.
Margaret: There you go! It’s selling like hot cakes!
Paul: (Indicating Scottish Malcolm) It’s selling like alcohol to him.
Talking shop will return next week. If you’ve enjoyed this post please check out my other related content:
- Tooled Up: The items we but and what they say about us. This week: flasks.
- Lost in: expeditions through modern life. This week: Lost in Ikea
- Charity Shopper: the things you can find in a charity shop might just surprise you.