Jaqui's Daily Blog

A Mystery Shopper, an Albatross and a Homing Pigeon

The woman in front of me in the queue at the local Co-op was busily taking photos on her Smartphone of the display of chocolate bars. Buy 2 for £1, the labels on each shelf proclaimed, bossily. I couldn't work out what she was doing. Or, for that matter, why. She re-arranged a few Boost bars and bags of giant chocolate buttons before snapping away once more. What on Earth was she up to?

Now, as regular readers well know, I am of a Curious Nature, in fact positively nosy. But even I couldn't quite bring myself to ask her outright what she was doing. She was, you might say, the ultimate Mystery Shopper.

Nobody else in the queue looked the least bit interested in her activities, all being intent on working out how many shoppers were ahead of them in the queue and dividing the total by the number of staff on the tills to arrive at an approximate waiting time before they would be served. I don't actually know for sure that this is what they were doing, you understand, but I reckon I am on the right lines.

In the butcher's shop I was given a Scottish five pound note in my change. The man behind the counter, seeing me eyeing the unfamiliar note, assured me it was "legal tender." It wasn't that I didn't trust him but I thought I might try to spend it in the newsagents which was next on my list of Shops To Visit in order to buy a birthday card for Our Boy. The shop assistant declined to accept my Scottish fiver - there was a note behind the till, she told me, informing staff that on no account were they to accept these notes. Apparently there was no further explanation.

Incensed on behalf of my Scottish family and friends, but not willing to lose money, I returned the Unwanted One to the butcher's and received an English note in exchange. But why, I asked myself? This was turning into a Shopping Trip of Many Mysteries.

You may be thinking that to use up half the Daily Blog on such Inconsequential Matters says much about the humdrum nature of my day to day life. This starts me musing. My friend Eleanor, away in Distant Lands and having the time of her life, sends me - via WhatsApp - some photographs she has taken of an albatross, one in the air, one close to. No, sadly, not an Ancient Mariner in sight - but you can't have everything, you know. I reply that it's the monthly meet-up of our Birdwatching Group on Monday but that I can't see us spotting an albatross, however much we strain our binoculars. Eleanor follows this up with a photograph of a kaka, aka a forest parrot - then takes pity on me and sends a snap of a robin. You see what I mean? Where one person spies an albatross, another has to make do with a sea-gull, a magpie and a wood pigeon.

And yet...Yesterday I returned to the place where I worked up until four and a half years ago. The purpose for my Trip into the Past: to say farewell to a colleague retiring after forty years in local government. Well done, that good and faithful servant! You deserve to make your "Great Escape" and I hope retirement will be fulfilled and happy.

There were so many familiar faces from Way Back When, so much to catch up on, so many reminiscences to share. So much was familiar - but there were also some startling changes. The main Committee Rooms are now decorated in bright pink, blue and white. I have to smile when I remember the arguments I waged when we opted to change our office walls from magnolia to a tasteful dove grey!

I loved my job. I particularly loved, admired and respected the fantastic people I worked with. But would I want to go back to my life as a Working Gal, when on occasions I could, indeed, feel that albatross round my neck.

Instead I've become a homing pigeon. I rather like it that way.



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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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