'I'll have a 100g of the sundries tomato stuffed olives, 100g of the garlic stuffed and four of the blue cheese stuffed please'. Not a massive amount of olives to order and really we just wanted to try out the blue cheese ones.
We should have realised when we saw our deli counter assistant trying to halve an enormous piece of Parmesan using a bread knife. It was obviously a struggle, the knife was stuck at ninety degrees in the centre of the cheese and she was puffing and panting using both hands to push down with little success. Really what would have happened if she had slipped would have involved us picking up ten little fingers as they ran down the double edged blade and spoiling our day.
'I would like some Olives please'
'Oh'. We looked around, the shop was deserted but she seemed strangely disappointed that we wished to buy something, either that or it was because we had stopped her digit removal fun momentarily.
'I'll have a 100g of the sundries tomato stuffed olives, 100g of the garlic stuffed and four of the blue cheese stuffed please'.
'These?' she said pointing to the stuffed mini peppers.
'No, those, the green ones with red poking out of them'.
'These?' pointing at the anchovy stuffed ones two bowls away.
'No, those, the green ones with the bits of red in them'.
'You mean the olives?'.
'Yes, the bloody olives, do you even work here or are you just paid to try and lose body parts for the customers?' I said inside my head but my mouth settled for a calm 'Yes, those please'
As you can see it didn't get off to a cracking start.
'100g please'. Oh my god, this is going to be painful, not only do we have to describe the food we are also going to have to remind her every three seconds. Fighting the urge to leap over the counter and take over we patiently waited a few minutes watching her carefully balance the olives in the plastic container trying to get exactly 100g. We stopped her as she chopped an olive in half to get it right and just before she quartered that piece too. OMG.
'Its 101g, is that, er, er, ok?'
'101g is fine, although we were hoping for 101.00001g but hey you can't have everything, right?' There followed a laborious process with the labelling machine until it choked out a trim little label then a further few minutes of fumbling as the lid refused to seal.
'Anything else?' she said brightly, obviously her mind had drifted back to the thoughts of other ways to skirt with danger in the deli.
'Yes, a 100g of the garlic stuffed please'
'These?'. I came to buy olives not play show and tell, maybe they were new but you would have least expected a modicum of training to distinguish between olives and peppers. Her fixation with pointing at the peppers was unnerving, skilfully and patiently we guided her back to the olives and on to part two. 'How many?' it was about this point my mind zoomed away and I looked back on myself and exactly where in the universe I was placed. Apparently every so often an inverted black hole neutron, a very rare atom, explodes. it's only a small explosion but creates a stupidity bubble that lingers for many hours, I was squarely in that bubble and trapped by the gravitational pull of absurdness it creates.
All this pales into insignificance though when we got to buying four of the blue cheese ones. Imagine describing that we would like less than 100g and have opted to purchase just four, a risky proposition that bordered on reckless, it had already taken us nearly ten minutes to get the other two tubs.
'Four?, four? of these?' she said pointing yet again to the peppers. If you point again at those peppers young lady I'm going to take them and shove them up your nose. Give me the damn pot and you stand this side whilst I fart around in a silly hat cutting up olives accurate to twenty seven decimal points. Here, let me start the bacon slicer for you to play with, you will find it far more effective in reducing your hands to the equivalent of a dibber than that silly knife.
Words cannot describe the next five minutes, not only did we have to repeat our request numerous times but we also had a 'This days kinda silly' as a reply to 'Yes, just four PLEASE'
'Excuse me, I don't think this is right' I said as she handed me the tub.
'Why? Did you want peppers?'. When she got up from the kicking I gave her I pointed out that four olives, even of this quality should not cost the deficit of Greece and £34.46 was a little steep placing my four little olives in a category above gold ingots. With an exchange rate like that maybe you should start a Cash4Olives I suggested.
To cut a long story short and save you of untold woe as we realised all the tubs had been mislabelled we eventually left this corner of the deli after fifteen minutes only to start a new episode at the till.
Sitting in the car we pulled the lid off the sundried stuffed olives and tried one. Boy they were nice. Removing the olives though had exposed a secret. At the bottom was two perfectly formed stuffed peppers.