When I was at Uni I worked at a small supermarket. It was a family run business and the interview process involved an informal chat with the mother of the family and her adult son. The mother, lets call her Mrs M, was an Italian woman in her 60’s and was ticked every box for the stereotype. She was harsh and loving all at the same time. She could make you tremble with fear and smile at her stories in the same sentence.
Mrs M and her son, one of many, lived in a house behind the shop and so Mrs M was often in the store getting groceries. On my first day I was warned to be wary of her if she came into the store because she might be getting on in years but her hearing was 100% and her piercing gaze was enough to strike fear into even the most hardened person.
I had been working at the supermarket a week when I had my first encounter with Mrs M. I was the checkout chick and despite my best attempts to suddenly need a toilet break, I was stuck. With shaking hands I started to ring up the items Mrs M had purchased. I felt her beady eyes boring into the side of my head as I tried to avoid eye contact. Then she spoke. ‘You’re doing good girly,’ she said in her matter of fact voice. I think I felt all of the air leave me in pure relief.
I still tried to dodge her at all costs, with sudden bladder outbursts whenever she stepped inside the store.
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