A Much Needed Comic Relief: The Distanced Senior Citizen!

Nowadays I choose a slot when the nearby park is almost empty and so is the market on the other side, for my morning walks which I think is quite important, despite the deadly times we are living in. I satisfy myself with the precautions thus taken. That morning too, properly masked up, I combined the intended walk with the essentiality of buying a few fresh fruits for our wellbeing. After taking my predetermined rounds in the park which was empty as the rising summer sun, at this hour, made it relatively hot for the walkers, I went to the fruit shops in the market.


I found a senior citizen occupying the whole of the front-side of the shop with a lady waiting patiently behind him on his right keeping an appropriate distance. That shop was my favorite because it offered better-quality fruits at relatively cheaper prices. Therefore I joined, behind the senior citizen on his left, again keeping a good distance. In fact, I was very pleased that the social norms were maintained strictly. As the minutes ticked by I observed the waiting lady who was getting visibly impatient, pacing here and there, but not able to take the decision to go to a different fruit seller. I immediately understood that the gentleman buyer must have been taking a long time in completing his task, and so now I turned my focus on him.


Indeed! He seemed to be a very fastidious person, taking up the various fruits on his hands with meticulous care and acute examination, and then, almost reluctantly every time, handing those over to the fruit seller for the final weighing and packing. The fruit seller, by now in the throes of unavoidable ennui, started darting looks at the other customers, including me. I took the cue and innocently asked him the price of apples. He immediately mouthed the price in a subdued tone and inquired politely how much I wanted. I displayed my index finger meaning one kilo. As the senior citizen was still busy observing and examining he instantly weighed one kilo, packed up keeping it aside and again whispered to me if I needed any other fruit.


The fastidious gentleman now turned his focus on the apples too and started grumbling, ‘this is not done! I am the first customer and I must be served first! Social distancing is also the other most important consideration.’ I tried to assure him that I only inquired about the price and was willing to wait my turn, but he continued to grumble, picking up the apples one by one and examining those with extreme attention. The exasperated fruit seller was now in a real hurry to attend to my needs, but I told him clearly to satisfy the senor first.


By that time the waiting lady finally called it a day and left for another shop. As the waiting was testing my nerves too I decided to renew my morning walk, pacing the lane from one end to the other, while observing the senior customer who could not avoid casting at me occasional surreptitious sideways looks. Meanwhile, two other customers took up their positions. Finally, the old gentleman finished, and at the very end entreated the fruit seller for a discount. I could not determine if he got the discount or not, but he left, walking slowly away. At that time I was at a distance down the lane, and several other customers occupied the front of the shop fully.


However, the good fruit seller called out to me and settled quickly on my other needs, remarking about the gentleman buyer caustically. I just smiled at him and walked away homeward. Well, not bad. Extreme awareness, even if you decide to call it unnecessary fastidiousness causing inconvenience to others, is much better than no awareness in times of deaths and devastation everywhere. 


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