The Eggs Are Not A Metaphor For Fertility

The woman in the shop with the long, dark plait doesn’t like me. I always do my little, but clear and concise, ‘Hello’, and she doesn’t answer. The way she slams my change on the counter suggests she can’t stand me. I’ve bought so many essential items from her over the past 13 months (Nurofen, pantyliners, Capri-Suns) and I visit that shop at least once every two days but it doesn’t matter because she doesn’t like me.


On Wednesday I catch her having a friendly chat with a middle-aged man about the next time the post box would be emptied and I’m naturally furious that we’ve never had such a pleasant conversation. On Thursday I catch her pushing her head forward over the counter to coo at a small child who has no interest in her and she says to the father (I presume), ‘Okay, see you and the little one again’, and I think, right, here I go, she’s in an excellent mood today, this is my chance. ‘Hello’, I say. I get nothing. On the way home I think about casually taking a friend’s kid with me into the shop to see if that would help. It won’t, I decide.


The bloke that works in the shop is unpredictable. I once heard a girl about my age say that she liked the smell of his incense sticks and then he said she could have a packet of the same ones if she wanted…for free! I was stunned. We’re not at the incense sticks stage yet but sometimes he asks how I am and I want to ask him why the woman who works at the shop doesn’t like me but instead I tell him I’m ‘good’ and he says he’s ‘very well’. Other days I don’t get anything out of him but it’s usually when he’s trying to sort out some kind of critical stock problem with the young bloke, so I don’t mind. There’s a third bloke who looks like a retired, bleach-haired rock star and he’s only served me once but I didn’t like it at all. He took far too much interest in each of my items. ‘BEANS!’ he shouted, ‘CHEESE!’ and so on. He also laughed at me when I suddenly burst into a frantic coughing fit (probably out of nerves). I think he’s been talking to the woman who hates me and together they’re going to bring me down.


On Friday, after our usual disappointing exchange, I begin to wonder whether her dislike of me began with that time I broke the eggs. It was one of my first visits to the shop, and my basket tipped too much. The eggs cracked, leaked and made a small puddle of gunk on the floor by the bread. I wasn’t sure if the eggs were already a bit cracked and my clumsy handling of my basket was the last straw, or if the eggs were just perfect before I got my foolish hands on them. I handed the woman my broken eggs and explained that they had cracked and leaked and there was a bit of a mess and I pointed to the puddle. I should have said I was sorry but I didn’t. I picked up a new box of eggs and carried on with my shopping as if nothing had happened. It hadn’t occurred to me at the time but maybe I was supposed to pay for those cracked, worthless eggs. I mean, I didn’t even say sorry. She must have me pinned as a remorseless thief. I imagine her calling me Egg Bitch behind my back and I bet she’s never forgotten the day I mindlessly set her back by one box of six, free-range, Welsh, medium eggs.



I confess everything to my boyfriend. He says not to worry about it and she’s always grumpy with him too, but it’s no use, I think. He doesn’t understand. She hates me because of the egg thing and I don’t blame her. I let her down. I was inconsiderate. I assumed someone would get some Flash and a paper towel and clean up the mess and throw the eggs in the food waste and the box in the recycling bin and that would be it. Looking back I realise I was so stupid to think that my childish actions would have no consequences. I decide I can’t possibly go back to that shop. Not ever. I will treat this like the time I hid behind a blue Land Rover when I saw an ex-lover coming. Rather than facing the woman who hates me and acting as if nothing has happened (or facing my ex-lover and pretending I hadn’t witnessed him incorrectly use a condom and then correctly use a condom), I would instead start shopping at Co-op.


It starts off well. When the pretty, blonde young girl working at the till asks me if I want a receipt I think, you know what, yes I do want a receipt, that is so fucking kind of you to ask. I start to become obsessed with my Co-op Membership Card. I’m collecting points all over the place. I try to log in online and view my account but I forget my password. For a moment I think that’s it, and Co-op will never serve me again, but I call Customer Services and a very helpful lady reminds me of my password and I’m quickly allowed back in the game.


There’s a tall, broad young guy who works in Co-op and one day after he asks me how I am, I ask how he is and he says he’s feeling amazing and a lot of people have been asking him how he is and he says it’s like when Joey in Friends always asks ‘How you doing?’ I think that this is a strange comparison as Joey uses the phrase to get women to have sex with him whereas I had simply asked how he was because of my growing insecurity that if I didn’t then he’d realise I’m the heartless bitch that the woman at my old shop always knew I was.


Five months pass and I have nothing but good experiences at Co-op. They send me vouchers, I like their cotton wool pads and their staff serve me with manners and precision and I love every second of it. I never put eggs in my basket. I carry them separately, carefully in my arms and close to my heart. I still think about the woman at my old shop. Every time I have eggs I think of her long, strong nails, the small brown mole on her right cheek and the way she always wears a slightly scruffy black and faded jumper.


I have the day off work and I drink 1.5 pints of cider and I decide that it’s time. I march straight into my old shop as if I’d never left. I go to the back and pick up one pint of semi-skimmed milk. As I walk towards the front there she is, sitting behind the counter as I knew she would be, at 5.30 on a Thursday. There are two people in front of me and I try to play it cool as I pretend I’m not listening to their conversations which are quite uneventful and absolutely nothing to be jealous of. It gets to my turn and I say ‘Hello’ and she says nothing.


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