For me, one of the greatest moments of Shadenfreude happened when I saw a woman drop a carton of blueberries in a supermarket.
For a glorious few seconds the small round fruits bounced and rolled in all directions, finding their way under inaccessible chiller cabinets and getting squished and smeared artistically under passing feet and trolley wheels.
A similar moment happened to me in my local Sainsbury the other day.
I’ve noticed recently that communications sometimes break down between my brain and my hands, so I just forget to grip things. Whatever I’m holding: toothbrushes, apples, forks, they all go clattering or thumping to the floor with no warning.
On Sunday at the checkouts, I forgot to grip a large jar of black olives.
I didn’t let on to the staff that it was the MS, or that I had a disability. Embarrassed, I made some excuse about it catching the edge of the trolley instead, painfully aware that I had my 11 year old daughter with me who still can’t live down a cake avalanche moment I subjected her to in Tesco.
The staff looked after her, making sure she didn’t go anywhere near the broken glass, and I heard the announcement for the in-store janitor as I jogged off for a replacement from the pickle section.
On my return (“both hands Daddy!”), the woman from the checkout had emptied my trolley for me and a beaming floor manager re-assured me that it was absolutely no problem at all.
“It’s what we pay her for!” came his cheerful reply after my profuse apologies to the busily mopping janitor. I almost felt like I’d made his day.
Everyone was smiling and helpful and making a fuss of my daughter. I got called “duck” more times than I could count. By the time I had everything bagged and we’d paid for it all, it was almost like we were bidding farewell to old friends.
Of course it’s good customer service to iron out the embarrassment of such events, and a friendly supermarket is one that you’ll want to go back to.
But how marvellous that when the MonSter tries to trip you up and upset you everyone else rallies round to pick you up.