I had a parcel I had to post today. It had to be today. It had to be big and awkward. I had 3 little minxes to corral, an inbound mother-in-law, a house like a bomb had gone off, birthday cakes to make, presents to wrap, cards for the girls to write, a poorly Midi, a probably-sickening Mini, and an overly-optimistic attitude that I could cope with it all. And it all started with those fatal 2 words: “I’ll just…” (doesn’t it always?)
I noticed I’d parked the car squinty (ok, it looked abandoned after a carjacking, it was so badly parked). My mother-in-law would never be able to park beside it. I figured that starting it up to move it back then forward would be an appalling waste of diesel. “Och, I’ll just nip down to the village to post the parcel, then it’ll be worth starting it up to move it”, I thought. It was a gorgeous day, all 3 minxes were well-fed and rested, so I figured they would either be ok to come with me or if I could park right outside, then they’d be ok in the car for 30 seconds.
Well, I could park literally a yard from the door and would be able to see the car from the post office counter. There were a lot of people milling around outside the door. The girls were all quite happy to sit in their seats and wait. So I made the decision to keep them strapped in their car seats, lock the car and be literally in and out, as I could watch them the whole time. I told them The Plan, grabbed the parcel and nipped in.
Well, I say nipped in. The people milling around the door were blocking it with their silly flappy jaws and stupid dogs. I think I trod on one dog as I manouevred the step. Normally I’d apologise, but you know, shouting: “Excuse me! Can you let me past, please?” and being ignored makes me a bit cross.
So I marched to the counter and waited behind another goat. Again, normally I’d think ‘Bless!’ in a well-meaning but patronising fashion about his general slowness and need for detailed instructions just to function (“No, Billy, you need to put your special number into the machine… this machine… here… look, these buttons…right put your money in your wallet… that’s it”). Today I impatiently waited the extra 15 seconds by staring and waving at the minxes.
An old woman sidled up behind me, looked me up and down with a sneer, looked again at my parcel (it was about 2ft x 2.5ft x 6″), then stepped over it and me. She carefully turned her back on me, stuck her bottom out, and did a side-shuffle so that she was now standing right in front of me. I tapped her on the shoulder. She lifted her shoulder but didn’t turn round. Not having any of this, I gently but very firmly took hold of her elbow and turned her round.
“Excuse me, but I am waiting in the post-office queue, and I’m before you,” I said quietly, giving her an unflinching and unapologetic eyeball.
“Oh, I thought you were just standing there!” she blustered.
“No. I’m blocking the aisle, and this parcel here that you stepped over and kicked is about to be posted”. I tried to convey a tone of reasonableness, with a hint of ‘don’t make me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry’
There wasn’t really anything she could reply to that, so she stepped back again. I guess I couldn’t let it lie, so I (probably nastily) added, “Normally I wouldn’t mind, but my kids are right there and I need to get back to them right away”.
Perhaps this was why the counter assistant was so curt with me, as payback for not being nice to little old
ladies bullies. She frowned and flatly said, “It needs to go on the scales itself. Put it this way”, and motioned for me to stick it on its side. Well, that was never going to work – the scale was a little tiny square and the laws of physics (gravity) stop putting you being able to balance the few inches of a 2.5ft side of parcel on it. “It has to stand by itself!”, she trilled, almost hysterical. Wow, I thought, this is really getting to her. The postmaster came out and decided to help. I gave it 3 seconds.
“Guys, if you turn it thisway and put it diagonally, you get most contact with the scales, that’ll work”.
I got a scowl from the counter and a screech of, “But now it’s touching the glass!”
I shoogled it a bare centimetre sideways, and couldn’t help a jubilant, “Ta-da!” as it wobbled, but held its own on the scales for 3 long seconds, enough for a weight to be assessed and all hoops to be jumped.
“That’ll be £12.67!” she hissed. I swear she smirked when I fumbled putting my credit card in the right way. Damn – I may be a bit of a balancing magician, but I’m a right chip and pin Luddite-duffer.
I legged it out the shop as fast as I could, and pushed past the milling goats. My God, I think they’d bred in the meantime. There were certainly at least another 25 dogs (ok, ok, there were 3 there, total). I got in, praised all 3 for being so good and patient and not moving except for waving back to me. Mini was crying a bit, and Maxi wasn’t looking too happy.
“Our ears hurt. A car alarm kept going off” she pouted. Oh pants. No. Surely not?
“What, ours?” I asked, thinking that there were no other cars nearby. “But I didn’t hear, and I was right the other side of that piece of glass”, pointing to where I’d stood, maybe 3m away, tops. I’d definitely not heard the car alarm go off, but Midi corroborated Maxi Minx. “But what did all the people round the car do when the alarm went off?” I asked, exasperated at said people, who were now leaning on the car and making themselves quite comfy in their gossiping, despite me turning on the engine to get ready to drive off.
“Oh, they kept talking, but louder”, said poor Maxi.
Nowt like auld fools, eh? I don’t *think* they were deaf auld fools…
And the moral of the story to me is: Never, ever leave your kids in the car, even for a second.