Sorry, I should have come up with a snappier title but I’m still too retrospectively flabbergasted by this woman’s behaviour to think straight.
Picture the scene. There’s only one guy on at the news-stand and there are a number of people milling about waiting for their coffees at the coffee counter. I have picked up my Guardian and am standing at the other counter, Guardian laid out, money in hand, ready for the news-stand guy to finish making a latte so I can pay and go and catch my train. Which is when The Woman turns up. The Woman also wants to buy a paper only, and she also has her paper and her money ready – so far so good. This puts her in the top ten percentile of all newspaper purchasers at the news-stand at Vauxhall. But here’s where she goes wrong. She walks straight in front of me, slaps her newspaper down on the counter right next to mine and starts indicating she wishes to pay. News-stand guy, who is up to his elbows in steamed milk, doesn’t see this blatant act of queue-barging starts trying to ring up her newspaper with one hand and make coffee for the coffee crowd (who were there before either of us) with the other. Me, I’m just standing there agape. The small part of my brain that’s still functioning thinks, well, in fairness, I only have a two-pound coin, so if she’s got the correct change, I’d hold her up if I insisted on my rights by going first. But no, The Woman does not have the correct change. The Woman hands over her coin, points to the paper and demands 5p in change. She then bustles off.
What really annoys me about this episode is my own cravenness in standing there and letting her do it without so much as a squeak of protest. It’s possible she thought I was waiting for a coffee, but in those circumstances you don’t barge past, you check first. Besides, the look of horror on my face should have tipped her off about her solecism. And, yes, maybe she was in a hurry and had a train to catch. But this was in a train station … where we all have a train to catch.