Posted on August 21, 2015August 21, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair8.21.2015 Journal Prompt Image from The 400 Blows August 21, 2015: We pretended not to notice. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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Every now and then I drop a couple of quid into the box and that’s to keep the boss straight. He looks at me funny some days and I think he suspects I’m on the fiddle. He asks me how many bottles I’ve dropped this week and his voice is all mocking and sharp. I shrug and I hold up some fingers to show how many. He says he’ll be taking it out of my wages if I’m not careful, and so I quietly drop a couple of quid into the takings to keep him off my back.
I been a milk delivery man for almost thirty years. Man and boy, as they say. I reckon they should give you a medal or something for that. I see ‘em actors and actresses and they get medals for what they do. From the Queen they get ‘em. Aint enough that they got more money than a person can spend in a lifetime or two – so much they give some away to do good, and people turning their heads to look at ‘em when they’re in the street, and everyone loving ‘em to thruppenny bits – aint enough they got all that, but the Queen gives ‘em a medal, too. And all I get is the boss looking at me with knives.
Anyway, so what if I lose a couple of bottles of milk a day, that aint no biggie in the whole scheme of things. And only for the past three months. It’s a small penny or two out of the profits of the company, but they do all right. And the boss keeps his eye on me now, so in every other respect I make sure I do a good job. Got the cleanest milk cart in the yard and I drive real careful so there aint been no charge for a single repair these past months. And I do everything in lickety split time so they’re considering extending my rounds a little. A couple of bottles of milk that I say I slipped out of my hands and broke in the street, well, I don’t reckon as that is something to get all antsy about.
‘Course I aint being exactly honest when I say that about dropping the bottles all the time. ‘Butter-fingers’ the boss calls me now and some of the others in the yard calling me the same. But I aint slippy in my fingers like they say, nor slippy in any other way. There’s this girl, see, and she’s down on her luck and she steals milk from the back of the cart when she thinks I aint looking. She don’t take more than she needs and like I said, she’s down on her luck just now.
Her name’s Christy and she’s pretty as pocket lace and she talks to me sometimes, just to distract me maybe. And she asks after how I am and how my wife is and she says my wife is a lucky woman and she blows me a kiss to show she means it – whether she does or not. And when I get back onto the cart she lifts two bottles quick as blinking out of the back and slips ‘em out of sight under her jacket, and she waves to me and calls me ‘lover’.
I aint stupid or soft – not so stupid as I believe what she says about my wife being lucky and me being her lover if there wasn’t no wife. Sure it makes me smile as I drive off, but I feel sorry for her, too. You got to be down on your luck to be stealing milk and saying to a man more than twice your age that you fancy him. And so I pretend not to notice her taking the milk and I tell the boss that I dropped another two bottles, or I put two quid into the takings to hide the fact, and I let everyone and his dog call me ‘Butterfingers’ and I shrug and laugh with ‘em when they do, and I work extra hard to keep everything else right.
And no one ever thinks to give me a medal for thirty years being a milkman and doing what I do and I think maybe they should.