Category Archives: Rock ‘n’ Roll

Almost Famous

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve served someone who shared their name with a famous country singer. Well, I haven’t served anyone who was a celebrity in their own right, though from the grainy shots I’ve seen in tabloid magazines of people like Heidi Klum and Jennifer Love Hewitt at supermarkets, in time I may just have my brush with fame.

But for now, I’ll have to settle for two degrees of separation and former minor rock stars.

Today, I served a burly man who said that he was from New Zealand. Upon answering yes to his question of whether I knew of the film Whale Rider, he told me that he was ‘From there’. I could only assume that he meant he was from the place where the film was set and that he wasn’t delusional and under the illusion that his life is a film, a la Adaptation or Stranger than Fiction.

Jokingly, I asked whether he knew Keisha Castle-Hughes, the star of Whale Rider. Without changing expression, he replied carefully, ‘Yeah, I know her.’

‘Really? That’s interesting,’ I said, grinning slyly.

‘Well, I last saw her when she was really little.’ He waves a hand at around knee level to show how small she was. ‘I’m friends with her father.’
A few weeks back, I had a very interesting conversation with a man I served at the beginning of my morning shift. I’m constantly surprised by how greater things can grow from mere small talk, and this was one of those occasions where talking about the weather can sometimes lead the person you’re conversing with to telling you about their time in a rock band.

Well, I did say sometimes.

It all began when I said how fortunate it was that it would cool down by Sunday because I was attending a music festival that weekend. This prompted the man to ask whether I played any musical instruments, to which I replied that I dabble with the piano and the bass guitar but I’m not particularly stellar at either. I added that I sing better than I play.

Then I returned the question. And it opened up a Pandora’s Box. The man, as it turned out, was in a band for seven years. He was, apparently, the lead singer and played rhythm guitar. (Boyfriend later argued that it is very rare for rhythm guitarists to also be the lead singer and insisted that he was pulling my leg.)

Further questions revealed that his band composed a few original tunes but mostly played covers (‘We covered around two hundred songs’). They played at various functions and clubs, and even opened up their own club, entertaining there most nights of the week. Thinking of all the nightclubs I had seen in the city open up and disappear or re-vamp themselves six months later with a new name and a lick of paint, I said that nightclubs don’t often have a very long life span. In response, he said that contrary to popular trends, his club lasted many years.

Everything he said was in past tense, with a certain hint of nostalgia, so I asked why his band disbanded. Ruefully, he told a dramatic story about how one day on stage he had a mental blank. He couldn’t remember what song they were meant to be playing and how to play the song on his guitar. He had to ask the drummer to remind him. It was then, he intoned, that he realized that he didn’t want to be in the band anymore. They were playing up to six nights a week and he was burned out. Things had become almost robotic for him, he was operating on auto-pilot. Very simply, he’d lost his passion for making music.

‘…And I haven’t touched a guitar since,’ he finished.

Yes, it was a very grand tale.

I’m undecided about whether it was a true story though. I see no reason why he would have made anything up, and why he would have gone to the trouble of weaving lies for a humble checkout operator. But, I guess I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Not simply because I like to think the best of people, but because it was quite a nifty ol’ story.

Oh, that old time of rock and roll.


On the record

Strange things have been happening to me lately at the checkout. Songs have been popping into my head, forming a soundtrack that is in complete contrast to the mundanity and relative sedatedness of working. I’ve been recalling quotes from movies and obscure TV shows at appropriate moments.

It started this week, I think, or perhaps last Friday. One minute my brainwaves were running at alpha level and I was grabbing products off the conveyor belt, and the next Pete Doherty’s voice was blaring in my head and I was thinking, ‘You’ve got nothin’ on your mind/ you’re bleedin own you two bob cunt’.

The quotes that I thought of were a little more respectable.

On Tuesday there was some kid in the background screeching like a car doing high revs with the handbrake on, and the woman I was serving kept shaking her head but was smiling in that ‘Kids will be kids’ sort of way. I smiled back at her and said carefully, ‘That reminds me of a quote from a film. Have you seen Sleepless in Seattle?’

She said yes, so I continued on.

‘Well, Tom Hanks says to the woman he’s on a date with, “Do you have kids?”‘

(This remark resonated with the customer and she exclaimed, ‘Yeah, I remember that part!’)

‘Anyway, his date replies, “No” and he quipps, “Would you like mine?”‘

The customer laughed and said that she recalled that part of the film. She then joked about how she wouldn’t give her children away; rather, she’d sell them off at the right price.
I had just finished my shift yesterday and was walking to the back of the store to clock off when I stopped by the open fridge to look at the desserts on display. I noticed a small pavlova that was marked down to $1.49 and I decided to buy it.

At the express checkout, when my pavlova was being processed by the checkout veteran who I mentioned in a previous post, two middle-aged women queued behind me and started talking amongst themselves. The one nearest to me placed a crusty cob (a bakery item) on the counter of the express checkout and laid down next to it a long breadstick. As she was doing this, she asked her companion, ‘You didn’t break the bread, did you?’

Her companion was making her reply when I turned around and said wryly, ‘Isn’t that a biblical reference?’

The two paused for a moment before laughing and saying, ‘Oh, it is too!’

And on that high note, I paid for my pavlova, took it and left.