It's Father's Day in Spain today. I don't know whether it's also the case here in Sao Paulo. I do know that in our neighbourhood, it's the day after I created a mini-drama in the little supermarket down the road.
I went with Koala to this particular supermarket to check out their goods, having passed by it so many times on the way to and from the parque. It was better than I expected: unlike the hypermarket we frequent, this store offered lovely smelling fresh herbs and more attractive looking meat and poultry. The only thing was that the aisles were narrow. I had to take extra precaution with the stroller and also find alternative routes whenever I saw people with trolleys.
I chose a few items, placed them in my basket and joined a queue. Unfortunately, while doing so, I bumped the stroller into the chap in front of me. He was old-ish and had a kind smile. I was apologetic but he was even more so, especially when he saw Koala (the Baby Effect in this city at work again). He pointed to a preferential line next to us and insisted I joined it (parents with babies, like pregnant women and the disabled and elderly enjoy benefits like that here). I tried to explain that it was difficult to pass by with a stroller. He smiled and prodded a few people to move so that I could slowly make my way.
So...I made it to the preferential line, after a lot of fuss and offering muito obrigada to my left, right and centre. Two elderly women cheekily snuck in front of me while I was turning the wheels of the stroller (interesting to note that some are immune to the Baby Effect). Only thing is I discovered soon after that the 'preferential' line was hardly moving. Why the hell not? I didn't know. And Koala who doesn't like being stationary started crying. I had 4 elderly women in front of me*. I looked at my original line and saw that it was moving rapidly and that the man who had sent me to hell was approaching the cashier.
Koala's cries became louder. I tried to pacify him but to no avail (he is teething these days and is a little bit cranky). An elderly woman from the line on my right inched closer to me and started playing with him to try and calm him down. Koala was inconsolable and I felt as if everyone was watching us - pleading with me to somehow remedy the situation and save the unhappy baby.
I looked over to my original line again and this time saw that the main man had passed the cashier and was packing his stuff. I felt like crying - out of frustration and strangely also because I felt betrayed: by him and his good intentions, the so called preferential line and the two damn sneaky elderly women in front of me.
I placed my shopping basket on the ice-cream fridge close to where I was standing and gathered my bag and the stroller to exit. This caused a commotion with a number of people from different lines motioning for me to pass them and head straight to the cashier (I was right, everyone was indeed looking at us!). But by this time, I was too upset. So, I just waved one hand ("like an upset diva?" asked E later when I told him about it) and made my way towards the door.
That was not the end. A woman actually chased after me, saying that a cashier was available for me: they had cleared one line for me and my baby. This surprised me so much that I dropped my hand bag. I couldn't bear the attention; I felt overwhelmed. I picked up my bag, nearly causing the stroller to tip over in my haste and fled the scene vowing not to return.
* At HK airport immigrations - residents are able to use the mechanically operated express lanes to move rapidly. This system works very well and I often found myself clearing immigration and entering the arrivals hall in no time at all. The big caveat and standing joke was to avoid, at all cost, joining a queue with elderly men/women for despite every thing efficient, the line will freeze. I know, I know, I will join them..we all get older.