Checking Out the New Guy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
Short humorous tale set in a supermarket.

Submitted: December 31, 2008

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Submitted: December 31, 2008



Checking out the New Guy
- a short story by Blanc

Bleep…bleep…bleep. Donna passed each individual grocery item over the barcode scanner with a cool, numb detachment. She barely noticed the familiar bleep sound when the reader had done it’s job and registered another electronic code. She presented customers with their change like an automaton.
She had worked on checkout of the local supermarket for four years now and most days she had found it an almost mind numbing exercise. The only relieve from the tedium was to exchanged  a few words of banter  with Josie on the checkout next to hers or bring  to mind the thoughts of her upcoming holiday in Greece in the summer. Yet another diversion was to  try to catch a  glimpse of Jimmy, the new butcher who had just joined the meat and fish department the previous week.  
Through the narrow window of view afforded through the household items aisle in front of her she could see Jimmy now and again as he went about his business. Every so often he came into view when sorting a freshly cut batch of meat in the display counter or standing  assisting one of the more senior butchers at work. These fleeting glimpses of him were more than a distraction to her. They were becoming an obsession.  She could
 feel  her heart  flutter whenever she saw him, just like that time when Derek Connolly
stole an awkward kiss from her at the local junior disco when she was fourteen. Now she was twenty two, and feeling like a school girl again.
“Why don’t you go and try and talk to him?” Josie had said to her as they sat in the staff canteen one lunchtime. He was sitting with another couple of colleagues at the table next to theirs and facing her. She feared that he was within earshot and  was worried that he or his colleagues might over hear what they were talking about.
“Shush,” said Donna.
“You’re still not answering me?” teased Josie.
“I couldn’t!” she replied in a firm whisper.
“Why not? If you ask me he looks as shy as you are. And one of you is going to have to break the ice or you’ll get nowhere at all.”
Donna looked over to where Jimmy was sitting and he suddenly met her eyes and smiled. She turned quickly away. She could feel herself beginning to blush.
“I couldn’t,” she repeated now head bowed and embarrassed. She knew that if she couldn’t force herself to look at him how on earth could she possibly open up a conversation?
That was Monday. Now it was Friday. The throngs and queues of weekend shoppers hindered her view of Jimmy at the other end of the store. But what harm. She had seen him again yesterday. They had passed each other in the storeroom where he smiled at her and said ‘Hi’. That was the first time they had spoken. Again she blushed as she blurted something back, but this time he would not notice since he was already past
 her and bounding back to his work.
Since then she could scarcely take her mind off him. She slept fretfully last night and now her focus on her job was less than perfect. She simply couldn’t concentrate and from time to time she would absentmindedly double scan one grocery item or another or issue wrong change to a customer. For days now she was like this. A small trickle of complaints and queries about her to the customer care department eventually brought her to the attention of her supervisor.
“Donna, is everything okay?” asked the supervisor catching up with her as she returned to her checkout from her afternoon break.
“Fine,” she replied smiling as they walked along the shop floor. “Why?”
“It’s just that…,” said the supervisor pausing mid-sentence. She was trying to choose the right words in order to broach the subject without hurting her feelings. “Well, we’ve had quite a few complaints lately, Donna. Nothing major, just small things and I was wondering was there anything bothering you.”
“Oh,” replied Donna sounding hurt like some terrible secret she had been harbouring had been uncovered.
“Well?” pressed her supervisor. “Is there anything? Anything troubling you? Anything you want to discuss with me?”
They were nearing the checkout area and they both stopped walking and stood facing each other in the centre of the floor.
“No,” said Donna. “There’s nothing wrong really, except I suppose that I haven’t been sleeping too well lately.” 
“Yes, there’s road works going on late into the night near where I live,” she lied. “I think they’re nearly finished though.”
“I see,” replied the supervisor. Donna wasn’t sure whether she believed her or not - nor, for the first time since she started working in the supermarket, did she really care.
She returned to her checkout and before long she was back at work. But no matter how hard she tried she just couldn’t focus. Even trying to concentrate on concentrating was a distraction. It was a hopeless case. Now she scarcely noticed when people spoke to her and she was making more mistakes than ever. Jimmy was her obsession and everything else was secondary. She could only think of him.
She resolved to put this terrible anguish behind her. The only way to do this was to somehow summon the courage to approach him and maybe even suggest that they could see each other after work. Yes that was it. If, as Josie said,  he was too shy to make the first move then she would have to take the initiative herself. She would do it tomorrow. ‘No. That’s too soon,’ she thought. ‘Maybe Tuesday. Yes Tuesday. And if not Tuesday definitely by the end of the week, Saturday the latest.’
She relaxed a little in the knowledge that she had finally made a firm decision. But the mistakes continued. Late in the evening and at the end of her shift the supervisor was beside her, informing her that the decision had been taken  to replace her on the checkout with another staff member the following morning.
“I think we’ll put you to work in another department for a day or two,” said the
 supervisor. “At least until you get your head together. I mean, you can always come back
 to me when you feel your ready to slot back into your old job,” she added kindly.
“Okay,” said Donna limply.
“It’s fine, Donna,” said the supervisor smiling and putting a hand on her shoulder in order to reassure her. “I understand. And anyway, we all need a little break from the usual routine now and again. It’s perfectly normal. Just come back to me when you feel that your ready, okay?”
Donna nodded her agreement. She was already looking on the bright side. She could be working anywhere in the store, she reasoned. She might even be sent to work on the meat counter and working directly with Jimmy. The thought of this both exhilarated and terrified her.
The following morning she wasn’t, as she was hoping, sent to the meat counter but was instead put to the task of stacking shelves. But her supervisor was right, the break from her usual routine made the day pass faster and though she saw him from time to time, Jimmy wasn’t nearly as predominant in her thoughts.
However, that evening, when getting her coat from the staff locker room, she bumped into Josie who had a bombshell for her.
“That new fella, Jimmy,” she said to Donna. “I’d forget about him if I were you. Apparently, he’s already spoken for.”
“What?” said Donna, trying to control a gasp.
“Yea, he’s engaged. Been seeing this girl for ages it seems. So you’d be chasing a lost cause there I‘m afraid.”
Donna’s heart felt like it had stopped for a long moment. She sensed that it was
 swelling  and feared that it would crash through her ribs. Josie could see her turn pale and asked her if she was alright. Donna didn’t reply just finished buttoning her coat and rushed from the store into the night.
She wandered home in a stupor. For most of the weekend she had a hollow ache in her chest. She couldn’t eat, she couldn’t sleep. She even refused to meet her friends that night claiming she had the flu. At least Monday was her day off. It would be another day to recover from this terrible anguish before she had to face seeing him again. Thankfully, by Monday evening the fierce heart wrenching was abating slightly. That night she even managed to get a good nights sleep. By Tuesday morning she felt recovered enough to  approach her supervisor about moving back into her old position.
Now sitting at her checkout desk that morning she felt happy and content again. Josie was working nearby and all was well. Even the repetitious sound of the barcode scanner was reassuring to her ears. Nor was there any more mistakes -  no more frowning and irate customers to contend with. The occasional sighting of Jimmy didn’t raise nearly  as much anxiety as before. She found herself looking on him with a certain detachment. Now, to her eyes he was nice, but she realised that was all she saw in him now - nice - no more, no less.
But there was something else. There was another distraction occupying her thoughts now. All that morning she had noticed a tall, good-looking man in a suit in his early twenties she had never seen before wandering around the store accompanied by the store manager.
“Who’s he?” asked Donna leaning over to whisper to Josie as he walked by them at one point.
“That’s the new trainee manager,” said Josie. “Dishy isn’t he? He just started this morning. Michael I think his name is.”
The name Michael was a melody to Donna’s ears. She felt  her heart  flutter in her chest when she now looked at him. She didn’t notice that she had just double scanned a packet of tea bags as she watched him  disappear out of sight around the biscuit and cereal  aisle at the bottom of the frozen food section. She leant back into her chair, smiled and went into a day dream.


© Copyright 2018 Blanc. All rights reserved.

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