Thursday, 7 March 2019

Coffee makers and queueing!

Many years ago now my Spanish sister gave us a coffee maker for Christmas. It was one of those Italian style coffee makers, the sort found in every Italian home, with a bottom section where you put the water, a basket affair where you put the ground coffee and a top section that the drinkable coffee works its way up, by what I am assured is physics but which is probably in reality magic. I have always had a sneaky suspicion that my sister got it free with a packet of Bonka coffee. Whatever the truth of the matter regarding the provenance of the coffee maker, the gift was much appreciated and we have used that style of coffee maker ever since, having become convinced that it makes the best coffee. George Clooney can keep his Nespresso machine, as far as we are concerned.

Over the years we have had several, in a range of sizes, almost always the simple silvery metallic ones, although we have a nice matt black one in our English kitchen, purchased when our son managed to destroy one during his last visit to our house. And I have long had a hankering for a bright red one, seen in El Corte Inglés, where we are assured “hay de todo” - they have everything - including red coffee makers! Anyway, on Wednesday we managed to destroy another one. Somehow Phil put the coffee maker on the hob top without any water in the lower section. This is a very effective way of destroying coffee makers. On this occasion we were alerted to the fact when the black plastic handle fell off with a loud clunk, melted at the point where it joined the main body of the device. Oops!

So we went out later and bought ourselves a new, larger, shiny silver one. From the Chinese bazaar where, as in El Corte Inglés, “hay de todo”, but at much more reasonable prices! On our way back we called in at three supermarkets - Eroski, Froiz and Mercadona - in search of coffee to Phil’s liking. He is much more demanding in this respect than I am and counts himself a connoisseur.

Having found a brand of coffee to try in Mercadona, we stood in the queue at the checkout, waiting to put our purchases on the conveyor belt. At this point a lady bustled up and put some goods on the belt in front of us. Now, it looked for all the world as though she was adding something to goods already there and so we assumed that she was with the young man ahead of us. However, as the goods moved forward on the conveyor belt and the dividing notice kept changing places it became clear that she was not with the young man at all. She was a pusher-in!

It took quite some effort on my part to persuade Phil not to make a scene about it. I must say though that I was surprised. As a rule pushers-in here give an excuse for doing so: they have only one or two items or they have a bus to catch or they have left a child along in the car or maybe that the house is on fire. She offered no such rationale, just plonked her stuff down and said nothing.

Thinking back on it later, I remembered that one of her items was a largish pack of bottles of water. This had been on the floor, near the point where you deposit used baskets, and she had then turned up with a couple more things to buy.

Now, I have a theory.

The pack of bottles of water was a kind of marker, or place-saver, in the queue.

I have seen this done with large trolleys, stuffed with items and seemingly abandoned in the checkout queue. At the point when someone starts to put their shopping on the belt the owner of the trolley appears, usually with maybe three more items, and starts to protest at the belt loader pushing in. After all, she (and unfortunately it is usually a she) had left her abandoned trolley, or in the case we came across, her abandoned pack of bottled water, as a clear sign to all and sundry that she meant to come back and claim her rightful place in the queue!

We thought the British had queuing down to a fine art. Spanish housewives have refinements we have never even heard of!

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