Saturday 22 October 2011

So Long Shopi

I moved here 19 years ago, went to the local village bought an oven and walked into the little supermarket looking for something to cook.

They gave me a fidelity card!

I put it into my wallet, forgot about it, got reminded by the cashier and over the ensuing almost-two decades I presented it each time I bought a bar of chocolate, a rasher of bacon or a bottle of wine.

I didn’t really think about it much.

One day I walked in, bought some grapes, some water, a bag of cat food big enough to sink a ship and tin of tuna.

(I wanted to play it on the piano.
It’s a joke! Tuna/Tune…?
Never mind…)

When I handed over my fidelity card the cashier looked up and said – “You have a lot of points.”

“I do?”
“How many?”

I don’t remember the exact number she quoted, about 25 billion or thereabouts.

“What can I do with them?” I asked; I had never had 25 billion of anything before and it sounded like a lot.

She pointed to the catalogues that were stacked on a shelf in the corner; I took one and went home for what I thought would be an interesting read.

I could get a set of tea towels.

After that I pretty much just saw the card as a plastic extension of my arm, something I offered automatically each time I passed, never thinking about the consequences.

I had enough tea towels anyway.

It’s easy to take simple things for granted although my interaction with the local supermarket was better than average.

I bought enthusiastically in their fledging organic section, I tried not to arrive more than ten minutes after the posted closing time and i even shot a small part of a film I made after hours amongst the soap packets.

The other day I walked in, I needed, unbelievably, even more chocolate and the cashier – the owner’s wife announced that I had to use the points on my card.

“Why, I don’t need any tea-towels?” I explained.
“We’re closing and they won’t be transferred to the new owners.”

Taking things for granted can sometimes bite you.

“Yes, my husband’s had enough.”
“What about my chocolate?” I stammered.

She explained that they had sold to a rival chain and that my chocolate supply would be guaranteed and handed me a catalogue.

At the back, in the small print under a sticker that you could remove only if you had a very strong solvent, I learnt that I could trade points for sale’s vouchers.

I did so.

I cashed in accumulated points equal to the gross national debt of all European countries added together multiplied by three.

And I received 72 euros worth of voucher.

Which I could spend and gain more points with.

An endless loop!

Unlike life.

Which has it’s time and moves on and things change and sometimes it’s sad.

Usually when someone cares.

And when they care enough to invite you to say goodbye, it’s even sadder.

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