My local supermarket has – like most supermarkets I suppose – what its pre-recorded store announcement calls a “chilled aisle”. It’s where you find the more relaxed customers hanging out and kicking back.
These are the type of people who, when they come to the end of the self-service check-out process and the machine says: “Please choose your preferred payment method”, respond by saying “Shoplifting theft, thanks very much”, then bag up the goodies without paying and saunter out.
As they walk across the supermarket car park, they might well meet Mr. Marmaduke Cyril Ocean strolling the other way … the way of enlightenment. This numinous state of being descended suddenly on our splendidly named friend at precisely 10.23am, earlier that very morning, as he bit into an iced bun.
Coincidentally – although to the enlightened there is of course no such thing – the iced bun involved had been purchased the day before from the very same supermarket from whence came our super-relaxed shoplifters.
And more, it came from very same chilled aisle that induced our shoppers to become so relaxed in the first place. Ordinarily, of course, a bun would not be kept in a chilled cabinet. But in this case an inexperienced shelf-stacker had seen the word “iced” on the bun’s label and naively assumed that it needed a cold environment to avoid melting.
Mr. Ocean had thus been startled to see this solitary bun nestling deep amongst the sparkling ice crystals. His curiosity piqued, he stood for a moment, pondering.
His decision to buy it – though feeling in any case in need of a sugar hit – was triggered by the memory of an exam paper that he’d marked several decades ago. The geography question posed was: “Where might you expect to find a desert?”. To which one pupil had answered: “In the chilled aisle”.
This response had caused our Marmaduke to burst out laughing – a contrast to his normally sober self for which he was profoundly grateful – and he thus surprised himself by awarding the student concerned top marks.
And then, on today’s morning in question, when he finally bit into the iced bun, karma came full circle and rewarded him with its own top marks: enlightenment struck!
Utterly relaxed, full of laughter, our hero smiled and nodded as he passed by the shoplifters … on his way to the chilled aisle.