I was put in jail today.
Let me start at the beginning…
It didn’t go well from the very beginning, as I helped Rhys into the car for our weekly shopping trip. “Here’s the shopping list” I said, handing him his list of pictures in the same way I do every week. But he had other ideas and with a returned response of “No!” he threw the list on the car floor, followed by, “It fall down, it fall down!”
I had already started to accelerate the car forward, so I pulled to the side of the road, stretched over and picked up the list, handing it to him once again. He took it from my hold, but immediately discarded it back to the floor. It was a game I wasn’t going to play, so I continued forward along the road, coming to the supermarket with a child slightly less happy than when we left.
“Rhys shopping” I said opening the door and taking his hand. He walked, although reluctantly, towards the trolleys, and climbed up onto the heavy goods shelf which we use as a trolley buggy-board.
All seemed to be going to the standard plan, as I pushed the trolley and my son forwards into the shop. It was semi-busy (medium if you want a good gauge of crowd limits) as I pushed up the first isle of fruit and vegetables.
“Rhys, apples?” I said, holding out the apples and then pointing to the little apple picture on his list.
I gestured him to move it across to the red ‘done’ section in the way he does every week, but Rhys turned his back on me, and collapsed to the shop floor, a full on protest against the shopping trip.
Even ignoring social distancing, the space for my fellow shoppers to meander around him was non-existent, so I bent down and lifted him up, but only after he let his tongue make contact with the floor for a good corona tasting session!
As we moved down each isle, I turned the trip into an episode of Supermarket Sweep. The bread got a battering at the bottom of the trolley, with the eggs somehow staying intact throughout the experience. The new game show experience was made more complex with constant lifting of Rhys from the floor, or immediate trolley abandonment, as he ran down isles and through gaps in the supermarket shelving.
I soon agreed with myself that I had enough items to consolidate into some sort of eating experience, and headed to the tills, with Rhys in a fireman lift over my right shoulder, and my left arm manoeuvring a semi-full trolley down the final isle.
People stared, but I was beyond caring. This was an experience I was about to just write off, and all I had to do was get past those tills in front of me and into my car towards home.
The end of the experience was so close, but Mrs Old Lady in front of me, was taking her time trying to work out the complexity of contactless payments, only adding to Rhys’ urgency to get out-of-the-shop!
Rhys ran through the tills and lay horizontal across the floor, blocking the exit to anyone keen to leave. He kicked off his shoes, each one flinging across the space, leaving a middle aged man, unsure how to proceed past the situation.
“Just go round him!” I shouted, having totally given up on any shred of dignity I had left. The man pushed his trolley, making sure not to roll over a foot or stray leg, and I just continued to place my groceries on the belt, knowing the quicker I did it, the quicker this nightmare would be over.
“One, two, three” suddenly came through the tannoy system. A voice I vaguely recognised, but out of context I just couldn’t place. Then I turned my head and saw the origin of the sound. Rhys stood on a chair at the end of the tills, the announcement phone in his hand, and his mouth moving in speech.
I let my shopping and ran towards him, hoisting him into my arms, returning the handset and taking one big breath. All this had to be over soon!
I started to place the last few items into the trolley, with Rhys secured safely on my hip.
“One hundred and sixteen pounds, please?” asked the kind cashier, “would that be cash or card?”
I pulled out my card, and putting it into the slot, entered the code. The screen immediately beeped and a message appeared saying “Card declined”.
I stared at the screen. There was money in my account, what was happening. I tried a few more times, and each time I was rejected.
“Do you have another card Ms?”
“Yes, but I don’t know the pin” I replied, starting to panic not knowing the options to get out of the situation!
I was ushered to the side, Rhys still on my hip and my trolley of unpaid shopping beside me. “I’ll contact the bank” I said, and through the banking app got hold of a lovely lady called Lidy via the chat.
‘To ensure this is not a fraudulent claim, please send us a selfie of you holding a form of ID’ she said via the letters entered across my screen.
Then my phone screen dimmed, and a low battery message flashed before me.
I cut-off Lidy (she probably wasn’t human anyway) and punched the only number I knew into my phone, hoping I had enough juice to allow me my one phone call.
“I need your card” I blurted out. Then the screen went blank.
I could feel the sweat accumulating on my skin as my nerves took hold. I thought about removing my coat to cool down, but then remembered that I was braless, and it was not a sight I could present to the world, even though I had taken them through enough already.
As I suddenly looked to where Rhys was, I was once again taken aback to see him seated at an empty till pushing on some buttons which must have done something, but I had no clue what! So I once again hoisted him onto my hip, and stood waiting in hope that my saviour would arrive.
It took ten minutes. A long ten minutes, but my husband walked in with a card in his hand. He looked at me and smiled.
“Yes, I’m fine” I blurted.
He then looked at Rhys, and then back at me. “Well done. I dont think I would have had the strength to hold it all together as well as you do. Let’s go home”
Handing over his card to the shop manager, he paid my bail, and we left with just a smidgeon of my dignity still in tact.
I might try a different supermarket next week!
I was put in jail today.