The meeting was going to be the most important business gathering that noel had ever attended. If everything went well his financial future would go from being sound to quite impressive. He would probably be able to think about retiring in seven or eight years and spend the best part of his life playing golf, taking holidays overseas or just relaxing.
It pleased him that the traffic was light, heavy traffic made him sweat. He had only a ten minute drive ahead of him, there was no need to hurry. He licked his lips, it didn’t taste good, maybe he had bad breath, he suddenly thought. Foul breath would not do for such an important meeting and he began to search the side of the road for a milk bar or service station, anywhere that he could buy some chewing gum or a breath mint. A few minutes from the office of ‘Jones, Jones and Smith’ he sighted one. He parked his jaguar out front and went in.
The shop looked grimy both outside and in, it smelt bad, worse than his breath, but the meeting was just five minutes away now. Within an hour Noel would know if he was going to be a multi millionaire , instead of just a palin old millionaire. The meeting was very important, his breath must be fresh.
He found a packet of breathmints he thought might suit be to his liking and took them to the counter, no-one was about. Through a doorway, leading to the back of the shop, Noel could hear the sound of a television. Thirty seconds passed, but still no-one came to serve him. He looked for a bell he might be able to ring to attract attention to himself, but there was none. The seconds continued to tick away. He really had to go or he would be late for the meeting, if he was late he might as well not even bother turning up. For a moment he considered just walking away with the mints, but that was stealing.
‘Hey,’ he called towards the doorway. The ticking clock drowned out the sound of the television. ‘Could I get some service out here please,’ he said loudly and impatiently.
A middle aged man stuck his head around the doorway, before emerging completely. He was wearing a dirty singlet and smoking cigarette. Noel was disgusted. He held up the breathmints. ‘Look I’m in a bit of a hurry, I just want these.’ The shop owner took a long drag on his cigarette and moved slowly towards the counter. Noel could have sworn that the awful man was deliberately wasting his time. He snatched the mints from Noels hand and looked at the packet carefully. Smoke curled around Noels head and invaded his nostrils, now he really needed the mints. The shop owners stubby fingers stabbed at the register, the cash drawer opened.
‘Two fifty,’ he drawled, emitting another long plume of smoke. Noel checked in his wallet, he had two dollar coins and six one hundred dollar notes. He sighed and handed over a hundred dollars. The shop owner pushed it away angrily. ‘What do you think I am a bank. I can’t change that this early.’
‘Well you’ll have to have this then,’ Noel said handing him the two dollar coin. The shop owner looked at them and laughed.
‘I told you it’s two fifty.’
‘But that’s all I’ve got, the coin and onehundred dollar bills. I’m in a hurry, I’ve got an important meeting,’ Noel explained, hoping that the shopkeeper might see his side of things.
‘Guess you’ll have to go to the meeting with bad breath then,’ the disgusting man said with a laugh and another long cough. Noel looked at the clock again, in just two minutes he had to be in the boardroom discussing the finer points of the takeover and yet this pusinanimous example of human existence seemed to think that it was all a big joke. Noel returned the money to his wallet, picked up the breathmints and left. The shop keeper chased him, but by the time the old slob was out onto the footpath, noel was already back in his car and speeding towards the meeting. He didn’t like having to steal, but the meeting was important.
Noel took a breathmint before he entered the boardroom, it tasted like chalk and he threw the rest of packet away, actually quite pleased that he hadn’t paid for them.