The happy ham scammer was soon forgotten in the rush and looking back, it was a hundred invested in our education. But the well dressed elderly lady at Noosa was something else.
She came to the stall and pushed to the front when we were busy.
“I’ve come for the pudding I ordered last week.”
She looked classy and proud, a no-nonsense lady of maybe sixty-five.
I was busy serving and handing out change, only partly aware of the exchange beside me.
LJ began flicking through the orders, carefully arranged by numbers, with names, addresses and phone numbers recorded along with the amount paid.
“Do you have your receipt?”
She delved into her shoulder bag for a second.
“Must have left it at home. Name’s Smith. Paid Wednesday.”
“We’re not here on Wednesdays, we’re only here on Sundays.”
That’s it, I paid you on Saturday. I paid for a pudding!”
She was becoming excited, attracting attention as onlookers became aware something out of the ordinary was happening. She pointed to the Christmas cakes and Dolce Fortes.
“I got them too and ordered the pudding and paid for the lot on Saturday!”
LJ was still leafing through the order book as the crowd thickened. Some grew tired of waiting and drifted off, sales missed.
“You say you paid on Saturday?” LJ asked. “Did you pay at Eumundi?”
“No, I paid you here on Saturday.”
“But we’re only here on Sundays. We were at Eumundi on Saturday, in the sheds.”
“Well it must have been Sunday. All I know is, I paid for a pudding and I want it now!”
On the way to look at LJ, my eyes passed over the crowd. They had the fidgets, becoming impatient as she frantically leafed through the order book for the third or fourth time. I engaged her eyes, shrugged and picked up a pudding, handing it over.
My wry ‘Merry Christmas’ was as lost on her as it was on the perplexed onlookers. She was gone. I lost sight of her as she had disappeared into the crowd clutching her purloined pudding and I was drawn back to the waiting customers.
But I continued to follow her progress in my mind, maybe on her way to claim other real goods, secured by imaginary deposits made last Wednesday, or Saturday or Sunday on other imaginary orders.