Next Customer, Please

Karine waited for the next customer. She tidied the papers on her desk, looked behind her to the vault, and when the woman at the front of the line still hadn’t budged, she cleared her throat and said, “Next customer please.”

The woman looked up from her phone with a start, thrown back into the world unexpectedly. She smiled and moved forward, her jaw moving. Oh no, Karine thought.

“Hey there,” the woman said, before pausing to make two great chews. “I’d like to deposit a cheque.”

“Sure thing,” Karine said with a smile. She could hear the smacking of the gum inside the woman’s mouth, like a slippery eel flopping in a watery plastic bag. She shuddered internally, but kept her outward cool.

The woman slid her card into the reader, typed in the PIN, then handed a cheque to Karine. Karine turned it over, all the time listening to the slurping and slorping of the woman’s mouth, the gum inside. It was driving her mad, which made her work all the harder to get the woman out and on her way. Karine wrote the account number on the cheque, entered the amount into the computer, and said, “Anything else?”

“Hmm,” the woman said, pausing a moment to consider. Smack, slorp, smack smack.

Why couldn’t you have considered this when I was entering the cheque? Karine thought.

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Great, so a deposit of four hundred dollars. Here’s your receipt, have a nice day.”

Smack smack “Thanks,” the woman said. She took a step away and opened her purse, carefully putting the receipt inside, the sound of her gum on her gums still beating away at Karine.

Finally, the woman left. Karine took a sip of her coffee and said, “Next in line, please.”

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