for me, at least the local supermarket is. All I wanted was milk. I thought I could get in and out fairly quickly before it got too warm and before anyone I knew was out and about. No such luck.
"Cat! Just the person I wanted to see..." happens before I am even properly in through the barrier. I am told about an oldie who has been taken to hospital and needs someone to collect the mail. The speaker would do it herself but is going away. Fine. Not a problem. Will do.
It seems my strategy is working after that because I actually get straight down the aisle to the refrigerator section and the milk. I am even reaching for the milk when I hear, "Hello Cat, long time, no see."
I am caught. This is someone I try, at all cost, to avoid. She hems you in, invades your personal space, asks intrusive questions, delays people for long conversations. She is, in short, a menace. I am by no means the only person who tries to avoid her. We do not want to be unkind but she is her own worst enemy.
I try to back off as she stands far too close. I actually grab the milk.
"Hello, I really can't stop," I tell her.
"Of course you can, just for a moment," she tells me and launches in.
I try to move out of reach but she has me hemmed in between the milk and a display of soft drinks. She has no intention of letting me go and, short of being outright rude, I am effectively her prisoner. I look desperately around but, for once, there is nobody else I know in sight. She is asking questions I have no desire to answer. It is none of her business to know the answers.
If I actually told her that she would be hurt. She clearly believes that her prying is acceptable because she tells people, "Oh, I do like to take an interest in people. It's so important to do that. So many people have nobody at all. They really need to have someone take them out of themselves. I feel I can be of real help to people..." I cringe.
This time I tell her yet again, "Look I'm terribly sorry but I really do have to go..."
And again I get told not just yet. My desperation is growing. There is supermarket worker arriving with another milk laden trolley. We are in the way. Will this be my chance to escape. No. She looks at him and then directs him to move further down because she is talking to me. If she moves I will not be hemmed in. I will be able to escape. This is too much altogether. I give him a desperate look. He leaves the trolley, wanders off towards the office at the back.
A moment later the employee in charge of staff welfare comes out and says, "Oh Cat, could I talk to you for a moment in the office?"
I wonder what on earth she could want. Is the young employee I have been taking an interest in all right? I edge out and away from the menace and follow the member of staff into the office and look inquiringly at her. With a mischevious grin she says,
"I thought you might need rescuing."