Saturday, February 02, 2008

There I was sat at my desk looking in the second drawer down, trying to cope with the realisation that I had run out of apples. One of which I would normally consume for a mid-morning snack. I think it was either Jesus or Father Christmas who said, ‘Apples are great’, and who am I to argue with such pithy truth from magical people.

As another hour passed, I learned to live as a man without apples. By eleven, it was fair to say I had adjusted, was making the best of things. I even felt strong enough to make a humorous and unnecessary remark about Devon.

I took a walk down to the canteen to purchase a cup of tea. Standing, ready to pay, I took an unscheduled glance towards the exit and noticed a bowl of fruit by the door, a bowl which contained a number of apples. With 35p racked up on the till, I asked that the price of an apple be added on so I could pick one up on the way out. This was done bringing the total up to 75p.

My walk to the canteen exit was swift and untroubled. I approached the bowl and placed my hand on top of a reasonable looking Granny Smith and span it around in my hand to check its suitability as an edible piece of fruit. Satisfied, I extracted it out of the bowl and placed my other hand around the door handle in preparation to pull it open. My eyes caught sight of a new employee I was unfamiliar with; his stare was straight at me and noticeably hostile. My baffled returned ‘what?’-stare dissipated quickly as it dawned on me that this man would have been unaware I’d already completed the financial transaction in respect to this item of fruit.

What could I do? I could have returned to the till with the apple, but, a) this would be an admittance of guilt; the motivation of my action a consequence of being caught in the act of fresh produce thievery; and b) what would I do when I got there considering she was aware that I’d already paid? Hold it up and say ‘What do you think of my apple?’

I could have tried to nip the misunderstanding in the pip by addressing my perceived accuser, but my confidence that I had correctly read his previous facial expression as one of someone looking at an apple thief, had slightly waned. I envisaged his reaction to a comment such as ‘I have already paid for this apple’ to be one of bemusement. It would undoubtedly eliminate the risk of being considered a fruit-snatcher, but may instead label me as a man who arbitrarily presents information on insignificant instances of his life. If this got around, people may consider me to be having some kind of breakdown. My job of sitting in front of a computer, typing stuff, might be considered too high-pressured for me to handle. I could be demoted, shown the door, forced into sitting in front of woman in a tweed jacket to talk about my ‘feelings’. I’d have to fabricate a childhood trauma to explain the whole dirty mess. So I kept quiet and exited quickly and uncomfortably, probably amplifying any slight suspicions this man had of impropriety.

I hoped that the man would report the ‘crime’ to the girl at the checkout. This would allow her to clear my name. Allow her to wash the stain on my character away with the Daz Automatic of British justice. I suspect though, that this didn’t happen; that apple crime, for him, fell into the low-level category. I was just another hoody type spraying graffiti over the crumbling foundations of this once great country. He would see himself as a powerless bystander drowning under a swelling tide of immorality.

The apple cost me 40p. That’s usually enough to buy three of them. Society in a very real sense owes me two Granny Smiths, yet I am seen as the wrongdoer. Be sure of this though:

I will rise again.

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