Whatever The Weather

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium
Please note: This story is also included in The Imaginarium Summer 2019 Collection.
Cover image: Pixabay.com

Submitted: June 19, 2019

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Submitted: June 19, 2019

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Whatever The Weather

One thing about working in a shop in a small town is that you get to know the customers. Most of them, at least. I guess in a way it can be a bit daunting to start off with, but I’ve been working here for so long I can’t honestly remember how I felt at the start.

Sharon is new. This is only her second shift and she is visibly tense. I decide to give her the low-down on some of the regulars – make them less unfamiliar.

Good morning, Harry,” I say to Mr McKenzie. “What can I get for you today?”

The shop of course is a self-service on, but in places like this you always get some customers that like to be waited on. And let’s face it, business is quiet enough, we can’t afford to lose these customers so we cater to them instead. Already, I have started to gather up his newspaper, his tobacco, for one thing about our customers, most are very predictable.

The fifth introduction’s been done, and Sharon has done the serving. She turns to me when Ms Jenkins has gone out of the door. “How do you remember this all? I’m never going to be able to put all these faces to their names, let alone learn how to predict what they want.”

You’ll be fine. Give it a week and they’ll all be as familiar to you as they are to me.” Okay, I exaggerated, but I wanted to put her at her ease. “One thing to remember is for a lot of these people, we’re their friends. They don’t get to see many others, so just let them chat away, filling in the gaps with something, anything really.”

Sharon pulled a sour face. “I’m not that good at chatting.”

You will be. I tell you what, the next customer that walks through the door, you serve on your own. I’ll be here but I’ll be...’busy’. Okay?”

No, I...”

Yes you can. If you want the job, you’ll have to. Just make a comment about the weather. People always seem to like to talk about that.”

The door opens and I turn away, start ‘working’. Perhaps I should have waited to see who the next customer was.

Good morning,” I hear Sharon say. She sounds reasonably confident as she continues, “It’s a lovely day isn’t it! Nice and warm.”

Warm?” Francis Collins! I’d recognize his voice without even a glimpse. I know what I’ve done, I’ve dropped her right in it. “This is not warm,” he continues. “Too damn hot, it is. Look at me, sweating like a pig and it’s not even mid-morning yet...”

I should rescue Sharon, and I would if I knew how, but once old Francis got going there was no stopping him. It wasn’t until he left the shop that I had a chance to get a word in.

I’m sorry about that,” I said.

What...what did I do wrong?” Sharon was not that far away from tears.

Well, the thing is people never like what they’ve got, especially weather-wise. If it’s sunny it’s kind of smart to test the waters. Say something like ‘Isn’t it hot today?’ If you get a positive response then go with it, but I’m telling you, people love to complain about the weather. I don’t know why but...”

And so it went on. The hotter it got the more people complained, and yet most of them just the previous week had been moaning about the lack of summer. People, it seemed, were just so contrary.

We laughed about it, Sharon and I and by the time it came to the end of our shift she seemed much happier and more relaxed. I’m not sure how neither of us noticed it, or perhaps Sharon did and said nothing because I didn’t, but when we left the sky was black, the air was heavy.

It was only a couple of minutes walk to get to the car, but as soon as we stepped out of the doors the lightning split the sky and the rain fell in bucket loads. No jacket, no umbrella even; by the time we got to get to my car we were drenched.

Damn weather!” I said.

Sharon looked at me, I looked at Sharon and we both burst out laughing


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