There are some relationships that can’t survive a holiday away, some that falter under the weight of bad news and then there was mine, ruined by a Coles line.
It all started in the egg aisle.
I was determined to buy a carton of free-range but every box had at least one cracked. I was four cartons deep when my girlfriend of ten days, two hours and four aisles snapped.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said. “They taste the same.”
I said nothing and reached for another carton. I learned long ago the worst fights start over the stupidest things. I was determined to avoid it. I checked the eggs for cracks. None. Perfect.
I looked up and saw she was already power-walking towards the registers. I took a deep breath and followed.
As she walked, she clucked her tongue in annoyance. It was like following a child with a skipping rope.
Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.
The sight of that register line still remains firmly burnt into my brain. It's up there with my formal, my graduation and moving out of home. It was two customers wide and about forty deep. It curled out from the registers and ended in the milk and cheese section.
I soon learned a mechanical fault had rendered every digital register to fail. An employee was performing sales with a calculator and a look of deep stress.
One employee. One register. One line.
"CASH ONLY!" Another employee yelled. The supermarket bristled with tension.
"Cash only?" Shoppers began muttering behind us.
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And then, in what can only be described as a tidal wave of shoes, ten aisles of shoppers became one line. I launched myself forward but was stopped.
"Wait," my girlfriend said.
I watched in horror as little old ladies began lining up with tartan hand-trolleys. And then, in what remains the single most humiliating experience of my public life, she walked to the front of the line.
A man with a gurgling child in the back of his trolley looked up.