Short story - Missing out

Preston, England
December 31, 2016 5:41am CST
My local shop calls itself a convenience store, and though it is a 7-11, meaning it should open from seven in the morning to eleven at night, it’s often closed at noon, and the owner locks up at eight-thirty if he has had a quiet day. It would be more realistic to call it the Inconvenience Store. I find it therefore easier to drive across the Thames on London Bridge to the big 24-7 hypermarket in the shadows of the Tower Of London even to just buy a loaf of bread and a tin of beans. That is what I was doing on Tuesday when I ended up quite clumsily and entirely accidentally slamming the doors in the face of a lady walking in behind me. I walked smack into the doors myself first too, and they hurt. I had expected the doors to be automatic. Even the inconvenience store had automatic doors that had once seemed so cool back in childhood when I watched Star Trek. The megastore had push-pull doors instead on its main entrance. How primitive. I was furious after banging my nose on the door. I checked I wasn’t cut, and I wasn’t. I started pulling at the door before I saw it was clearly labelled PUSH. I pushed, stepped through and casually let it just swing back behind me without looking first. That’s when I heard the shriek of anger and indignation. I swung round to see a middle aged lady glowering at me in rage that briefly uglified her otherwise pleasant, smooth face, sharpening her green eyes to vengeful spikes. I offered apologies and started helping her pick up her scattered bags. She had already bought some shopping elsewhere, and somehow planned to add to her clutter with goods at the big store. She checked her eggs, which somehow had avoided breakage. I offered my gushing apologies and what must have seemed a desperate attempt at explanation, but it was the truth. “I’m sorry. I must seem so ungallant and unchivalrous, probably even a sexist misogynistic git, but I really just wasn’t thinking straight.” “Well, obviously,” she snapped with a husky rasping hint of undefined accent and too much smoking. “Actually,” I added as though to a priest in a confessional. “That isn’t quite true. I used to hold doors open to let ladies and the elderly gain entrance. It seemed the polite thing to do, but after what happened to me in Knightsbridge in 2003, I adopted an everyman for himself stance instead.” As I hoped and predicted, her curiosity was triggered enough for her to ask about the mysterious Knightsbridge incident. Her cold frostiness was melting. I told her. “I was entering a major store when I saw an old man approaching behind me on a Zimmer frame. I held the door for him for nearly three minutes as he came through, and he never thanked me. “ She looked nonplussed, and cheated as if my story had ended on just that detail. “Is that it? That’s why you hit me with this door?” I shook my head. “I never intentionally hit you with it, and no, my story doesn’t end there. As the old man got through the door, there was an explosion of lighting, flashbulbs, party streamers and confetti. A brass band struck up Congratulations and a grovelling store proprietor lunged forward with a grin borrowed off a catwalk supermodel to give the surprised and shocked old-timer a check for £10,000.” The lady was intrigued now as she somehow got her last loaf of bread into the last of her carrier bags. “What was all that about then?” she asked. I got to the punchline at last. He was declared their store’s millionth customer. They’d decided the next one through the doors that day was going to win the money and a year’s supply of shopping. Had I not held the door open for him, it would have been me. He took to his prizes and all the attention without any acknowledgement of me at all. With the staff all enjoying the celebrations around him it took three quarters of an hour for me to get served too. The least he could have done was chip in a few quid to cover the cost of my meagre purchases, tight old sod.” “So you decided to never hold a door open for anyone else behind you again, is that it?” she said, with as much triumph as if she had correctly guessed who a murderer was before the detective told everyone the answer to the puzzle. “Exactly, and that is why I wasn’t giving a second thought to it when you were behind me here. You have my unreserved apologies.” She pointed out that the chances of an incident like that with the old man repeating itself was slim to the brink of non-existent. I realized how right she was and seeing that she now had all her bags gathered to her satisfaction, I gallantly pushed back the door to let her step through to my left. She did say thanks, though I barely heard it as the balloons started popping and the brass band started the fanfare for her. I spared myself the indignity of following her in as the million and first customer. I went home dejected, empty handed and hungry instead. Youtube – A lady chosen as a store’s 5 millionth customer Arthur Chappell
March 28, 2015 We wanted to suprise someone by entering the mall that she was V-Central Molino's Luckiest by being the 5-Millionth Customer. She won a cake f...
4 people like this
5 responses
@Jessicalynnt (47790)
• Centralia, Missouri
31 Dec 16
oh, I would be so mad! lol
2 people like this
@Happy2BeMe (74360)
• Canada
31 Dec 16
What a great story.
2 people like this
@Kandae11 (35222)
31 Dec 16
I am thinking that the customer holding the door should be considered for some sort of prize as well.
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
31 Dec 16
@Kandae11 ideally yes but the story is about his indignation for not doing so
1 person likes this
• Bournemouth, England
31 Dec 16
A funny story that held my attention and with a nice twist at the end. I didn't know stores still did that millionth customer thing. I used to live near an 'inconvenience store' that opened six days a week until the early evening, thus making it an off-licence that was shut at night and a newsagent's that was closed on Sundays!
1 person likes this
• Preston, England
31 Dec 16
@asfarasiknow seeing such stores myself inspired this story
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (100138)
• United States
31 Dec 16
Rats!!! I do hope at one point in this fellow's life he will walk through a door and be the grand prize winner of something!!!
1 person likes this