A transaction at a pet supermarket on the edge of town.
Me: Do you sell Frontline?
Her: Yes, at the till. Would you like to follow me? Who is it for?
Me: The dog I’m carrying now.
Her: Oh. How often do you give it to … is it a her?
Me: Yes. Once a month.
Her: And what do you normally use?
Me: Frontline. I buy a packet of six.
Her: (over her shoulder) we have Frontline, we have Frontline Advanced which not only protects the animal but will add protection to wherever it is in the house that they go.
Me: (to her back) Oh?
Her: Or there’s our own brand, which is 25% cheaper.
Me: I think I’m happy with the normal Frontline.
The assistant stops listening for a moment as she prepares the next stage of her upsell. They arrive at the till. Opposite, a shelf contains all the Frontline and similar products.
Her: So, our own brand is 25% cheaper, which does everything that Frontline does …
Me: Er …
Her: … and today, we have a special offer whereby if you buy one dose and have it delivered to your address, we will deliver it free of charge, and will continue to deliver it on the same day each month. We will do that, starting today for one penny.
Me: You’ll deliver it for a penny?
Her: No, we’ll deliver it for free. We’ll sell you the product for one penny, and then for £4 every time we make a delivery, which will work out cheaper than buying a packet of them now.
Me: I think I prefer the normal Frontline please.
Her: The offer applies to all of the products.
Her: Which would you like?
Me: Just the normal Frontline please.
Her: You have to choose whether you want the tic protection version or not. Do you want tic protection?
Me: Yes, I need the one with tic protection.
She goes to cabinet and brings out one sachet of Frontline.
Me: That’s just one.
Her: Yes, as I explained to you, the rest will be delivered each month. You pay one penny today, and then only £4 each time a new delivery is made. I’ll just need to …
Me: Er …
Her: … it’s a totally flexible service, you can cancel it whenever you want, but we will undertake to deliver free of charge on the same day every month. I’ll just need to take your …
Me: What if I’ve gone on holiday?
Her: Are you planning to go on holiday?
Me: You can, soon.
Her: Well, it will be waiting for you when you come home.
Me: Then I might go somewhere else. Or stay away for a while.
Me: I’d better take a packet.
Her: What product would you like?
Me: The one with tic protection.
Her: They all cover that. There’s the advanced product that spreads cover wherever your pet goes in the house.
Me: Does the normal non-advanced Frontline give tic protection?
Me: But I thought you said …
Her: No, the advanced product is designed to give added protection to your home. It’s not about tics.
Me: But when you said about deliveries, I thought I had to choose whether I wanted tic …
Her: So, you do want a delivery then?
Me: I don’t think it’ll …
Her: It’s totally flexible, and much cheaper. Designed for your needs. All the products cost one penny today, it doesn’t matter which one you choose.
Me: Ordinary Frontline has tic protection, doesn’t it?
Her: Yes, they all do.
Me: I’ll have that then.
Me: Ordinary Frontline.
Her: (hands me a single dose).
Me: No, a packet. A packet of ordinary Frontline.
Her: So, you don’t want the free delivery?
Me: No. I want to be flexible.
Her: That is flexible. That’s how it works.
Me: It’s not flexible if I’ve gone away though, is it?
Her: So, what is it you want?
Me: A packet of ordinary Frontline please.
Her: Oh right. How much does your pet weigh?
Me: Five kilos.
Her: Exactly five kilos? I need to know. Have you had her weighed? We’ve got a digital scale which we …
Me: Er …
Her: I need to know exactly. The precise weight.
Me: What, do they have a different product for dogs that weigh 4.8 kilos?
Her: We are required to know.
Me: She’s exactly five kilos.
Her: OK, so you just wanted the ordinary Frontline?
Me: Yes please.
Her: There’s a packet of three, or one of six.
Me: A packet of six please.
Her: That’s thirty-six pounds you know?
Me: Yes, I can see.
Her colleague arrives. She goes with the Frontline behind the Covid-secure till.
Her: (to colleague) I’m so glad to see you, I’m so ready for my break.
(makes gestures sideways with her eyes towards me).
Thank you. Thirty-six pounds please. Just tap the screen with your card.
(waits. Pulls off receipt which she places on top of the packet, then pushes it through the gap in the screen).
Enjoy your holidays.
Me: (mouths obscene disparagement behind mask).
Now I find myself in a genuine predicament. I really cannot choose between suicide and arson; they both have their merits with which to face moments like this. No doubt, ultimately, as it always is, compromise will be the answer and I should perhaps acknowledge that and look straight away towards committing an act of arsicide instead. I can see it as a process whereby you would cut the arse from some trousers, get a face tattooed onto the bare skin thus revealed, perhaps a nose ring added, then each time you go to the shops you would conduct the transaction by bending over to face the assistant arse-wise, then carry out the negotiation via a pre-recorded message on your phone, which you would hold between your legs close to your new farce.
If your counterparty proves uncooperative approach them steadily until eventually they are deprived of light and air. Deploy this method in all such transactions, until eventually all your enemies are dead, or you are in prison.
sending love and thanks to Creative Writing Ink who run this great competition amongst many other things: https://creativewritingink.co.uk/writing-prompts