Yesterday I locked myself out of the flat for the second time in six days (the other time was fifteen minutes after the letting agent handed me the keys, and five minutes after she vacated the property). Now I know that it can happen to anyone, but that’s small comfort for someone with a brain injury who has a rather severe topographical memory impairment (inability to recognise buildings and other visual landmarks or read maps so basically all places either look the same or unlike anywhere I’ve ever been), because it can be really really confusing not to mention slightly traumatic. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, I had a full bladder and a bag filled with frozen veg.
Luckily for me, Antonia’s mother (Nikki) owns The Cabin, an icecream shed situated in Bell Vue Park which is just a few minutes along the road. This is one of the three places I have actually managed to learn how to get to and from on my own (the others being Caffe Nero and the gym respectively), so I was able to walk there and deposit my wares in amongst the icelollies.
Antonia was also pleased to see me because she’d been working there all day and hadn’t had a chance to go for a pee; and it was the first time there had been a lull in the neverending barrage of icecream-guzzling school children who were taking advantage of the sunshine during their summer holidays. So, like the nice friendly girlfriend I am, I agreed to keep an eye on things for five minutes. More fool me. Because as soon as my bean’s back was turned, customers began swooping in like vultures. And, of course, even though she’d shown me how to work the till the day before, the information didn’t stick; and this resulted in me pressing several wrong buttons and being short-changed by sixty pee – shame on you lady who bought the caramel cornettos.
Really, I should have known better than to have expected my ‘shift’ to have gone smoothly: about fifteen years ago, back when I was in rehab (that’s brain injury rehab not the one for drink or drugs) I did some unpaid work experience in Borders Books And Music in Glasgow and I was pretty hopeless then when it came to working the till, because whenever there was a queue (almost all the time) I would get flustered and fumble with the money and end up dropping it on the floor.
Despite this I was actually offered a job in Borders because my department (poetry and drama) sold thirty percent more books during the six weeks that I was working there – I now realise that it could have been because I was buying the books quicker than I was shelving them. And the job would have worked out fine if only they’d left me alphabetising plays and chatting to customers about Sylvia Plath and Benjamin Zephaniah. But no, they had me wandering around eight different floors trying to locate books for people who were too lazy to look themselves, and then they tried to foist a pager on me that I didn’t know how to answer. So when the job offer coincided with the news that booksellers would soon be doubling as baristas in Borders’ adjacent café, I politely declined and went back to college to do an HNC in Professional Writing Skills – and it was probably the right decision because the bookshop is, sadly, no longer there.
I eventually got back into my house several hours later. And the front gate was mysteriously open. Antonia thinks I was turning the handle the wrong way. I don’t. But I suppose it’s a possibility. It’s the sort of thing that would happen to me.