No, not online.
In real life.
With all the mentals.
The fear is already starting to build, deep in the pit of my stomach, a dull nervousness that refuses to leave. Soon I will be out there, blinded by the glare, dazzled by the tinsel and fairy lights and surrounded by a throng of buffoons.
I’m not sure if that is the correct collective term, and frankly I’m still not sure why there are so many of the buggers wandering about the shopping centre. Shouldn’t they be… I dunno… in Africa? Gibraltar?
I have developed tactics to deal with such occasions (they are rare), one of which is to constantly remind myself that you only need an IQ of 23 to be able to breathe and walk. Not that I think everyone is an idiot, far from it, there will be many people who are far worse.
However there will always be a smattering of the usual culprits around. You know them I’m sure, the random changers of direction, those who block the stairs to chat to their mates, and the worst of all the sudden stoppers. Such are the selfish, thoughtless morons.
I usually cope by taking many deep breaths and being efficient, getting in and out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, one time, I cracked.
It was several years ago and we were in Milton Keynes shopping centre. If you don’t know it, it’s a large shopping centre that is, essentially, a couple of big long ‘streets’. Not sure of the size but you can probably see for about half a mile in either direction.
It’s very busy and as we leave a shop we turn left and start walking to the next planned shop. About 100 metres away is a woman. She is walking towards us pushing a buggy. Whilst she is walking she is bent over, talking to the baby in the chair. Obviously she must own this part of the shopping centre and it is I who is trespassing… right?
Regardless we both continue to walk towards each other, a collision on the cards, closer with every step. I’m slowly counting to 10, waiting for her to lift her head and see me.
About 4 metres short I finally crack, stop dead in my tracks and say, firmly, politely and loudly,
The woman jerks to a halt, stands bolt upright and stares at me, her mouth flaps open, then shuts again. I can see she wants to say something but, wisely, she doesn’t.
I glare back and stride off past her, muttering and seething.
Gosh, I’m really looking forward to going shopping.