It’s so perfectly arranged – Mrs Rogers on the chair with a phone to her ear; the supermarket manager standing by her right shoulder, holding her bag; the First Aider, kneeling at her feet, taking details; the vegetable section guy standing guard over the three of them, stopping people cutting through to get to the cucumbers – you’d think there was an easel set up opposite, in soft fruits, and an artist capturing the whole scene in oils.
‘Is she on the phone to control?’ whispers Rae to the manager, after we’ve stood waiting for a couple of minutes. I’ve already pointed out the bananas to one person. Any longer and I’ll be going to the stockroom for more.
‘I think so,’ says the manager.
‘Well – can you tell her she can hang up now? The ambulance is here.’
Mrs Rogers holds a finger up.
‘Just a minute,’ she says, then back into the phone: ‘Now look. Can you reassure me that this has all been logged? Because it’s not satisfactory you know. Okay? Good.’
She hangs up without another word and tosses the phone to the manager, who only just manages to catch it.
Rae steps forward to speak to her, but she holds her finger up again.
‘Did you get all my details?’ she says to the First Aider.
‘All except the postcode and phone number.’
Mrs Rogers tells him, emphatically, using the International Phonetic Alphabet, then asks the First Aider to read it back, just to be sure.
He’s half-way through the phone number when Rae interrupts.
‘Mrs Rogers?’ she says. ‘Sorry. We just need to reassure ourselves that you’re okay, then we can be on our way. Tell me what happened.’
‘I tripped over a plastic crate that someone had left on the floor,’ she says, her face and eyes hard. ‘On the floor! What it was doing there I don’t know. But down I went.’
‘Did you hurt yourself?’
Mrs Rogers rubs her knees through her polyester slacks, so roughly I half expect to see sparks.
‘Of course. I’m very sore.’ She glances over at the manager. ‘I shall want all my shopping put through the tills.’
He shifts uncomfortably.
‘Did you stand up after the accident?’ says Rae.
‘Yes. Then eventually someone had the sense to find a chair.’
She pulls up the trouser legs to expose her knees, neither of which show any sign of trauma.
‘They look good,’ says Rae.
A woman privately appreciating the weight of a large butternut squash glances across at me, then carefully puts it back and hurries away.
‘Come on. Shall we go for a stand?’ says Rae. We offer our hands; Mrs Rogers rises out of the chair.
The manager holds his breath.
The First Aider’s pen hovers above the form.
‘There! How does that feel?’ says Rae.
‘Well. Hmm. Of course, last time I broke something down there I didn’t know about it for a month,’ she sniffs. ‘Then I was hobbling about in a cast till Christmas.’
‘I think you’ve probably escaped without serious injury this time, though,’ says Rae. ‘Do you think you’ll be needing a trip to the hospital?’ She shakes her head as she says it.
‘So you don’t really need us here?’
‘Okay. That’s fine. Well. Goodbye Mrs Rogers. I’m glad you’re all right.’
She nods to the manager.
‘We’ll be off,’ she says, patting him on the shoulder.
‘I hope this has all been officially recorded,’ says Mrs Rogers, sitting back down again and folding her arms.
The Manager smiles anxiously.
The First Aider checks his watch, then finishes writing the form.