Ovaltine

It was a Friday, after work, for people who’d been to work – though this was Lidl so perhaps not everyone had. This kind of thought makes me feel like an elitist snob, but I’m pretty sure a lot of people in Waitrose don’t go to work either.

I’d gone to pick up essentials like loo roll, but if I’m honest I’d chosen Lidl over the other supermarkets for the £1.99 chocolate truffles.

As I reached for some mixed spice (for tasty, warming, porridge) I heard a middle-aged man sighing loudly near me. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. He was dressed in a shabby brown coat and had the look of someone who might enjoy a drink or two (what did I say about being an elitist snob?). He was standing in the hot drinks aisle and was swearing under his breath.

I watched him wheel his trolley over to where a bored young worker was half-heartedly unpacking a cardboard box.

“Have you got any Ovaltine?” he said, loudly, rudely.

The young man stopped and pointed towards the hot drinks aisle.

“I know where it normally is, it’s not there!”

The young man muttered something about it being on the shelf, and to the old chap’s credit he wheeled back over to the teas and coffees to scour the rows of produce for Ovaltine again.

But it wasn’t there, and there wasn’t any more swearing under his breath. Oh no – we could all hear it. The man was incensed. He looked for the young chap but he was nowhere to be seen. His eyes settled on another young chap in a Lidl uniform, standing over in the bakery section. Like a missile, he homed in on him.

“OVALTINE! Do you have any Ovaltine? It’s not on the shelf!”

This young guy stopped what he was doing and thought for a second. His face lit up. He knew where it was. He told the man to follow him.

There was a hushed silence in the store as my fellow shoppers and I waited to see whether the great Ovaltine reunion would take place. A minute passed.

“I said OVALTINE!! Not AUBERGINE!”

I heard someone in the cheese section start laughing.

“Are you DEAF?! What is wrong with you? I asked for Ovaltine! Not a bloody aubergine! Go and look out the back for Ovaltine!”

The young chap scuttled off, and we all knew that he would not be looking for Ovaltine and that he would not be back.

Our hot drink fanatic paced about the store for a while, swearing. Bloody aubergine this, bloody Ovaltine that. Eventually he abandoned his shop and left, without his precious Ovaltine.

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