Gita did not like Mrs Hatran. She was a particularly irritating person. One of the things that made her even more irritating was that she was not the sort of person who was easy to talk to. Typically, Gita could speak extensively to each and every customer that ever entered the shop. In the case of Mrs Hatran, however, she found herself unable to make even light chit-chat. She was a very matter-of-fact person, and she didn’t make idle conversation.
“Hello, Mrs Hatran. What can I be doing for you today?”
“I would like a bouquet of petunias. Ensure that the bouquet is formed of approximately 35% bud flowers as I feel this would best suit my smart new vase.”
Gita didn’t care about Mrs Hatran’s vase. However, it seemed her best shot at a successful exchange, so she had a go anyway:
“Ooh, a new vase? Lovely! What’s it like, then? Where did you get it?”
Mrs Hatran approved of this line of enquiry.
“Well, my husband found it on the internet. I’m hardly one for what I understand is deemed ‘internet shopping’ but it is particularly lovely. Only fifty seven pound ninety-seven on Ebay, in fact, and quite lovely. Have you ever used Ebay, dear?”
Mrs Hatran had a rather patronising tone about her, but Gita swiftly responded. She needed to redress the balance.
“Ah, behind the times are you, again, Gita? I see. Well, quite understandable. I can see why it might be daunting to the internet virgin. Do you not even have a website? Well, I can’t imagine you sell much anyway. Anyway, have you sorted out my flowers yet? I don’t have all day, you know! I can’t just stand here and talk!”
Good, thought Gita to herself, as she prepared the bouquet. She would swiftly deal with Mrs Hatran and she could be on her way-
“I have a highly important meeting to attend, you know. It’s a council one, just tedious things, of course, but it is something that could help you I feel. It is regarding the possibility of a council-funded scheme for the elderly, to help them become more technologically adept. If the motion is carried, of course, you might even stand a chance yet of getting your head around computers! Anyway, must dash. Bye!”
And with that, Mrs Hatran swiftly took and paid for the flowers and departed, leaving an infumed Gita in her wake.
Gita could use computers. Of course she could. Computers? Easy. This would be a doddle. And Gita was going to prove it.
Departing to the back room, she booted up the ancient laptop that was sitting there, and connected it to a dusty wall socket using its cable. After several minutes’ loading, it had began to function, and delightfully informed Gita that Mozilla Firefox would stop updating in March 2009- over three years earlier.
Gita strained to recall the name of the website that Mrs Hatran had mentioned. Mebay? She tried typing that in, but nothing useful seemed to come up on Yahoo Search. Shebay? Hebay? But the top result for all of these searches was something called “Ebay”. Tentatively, she clicked on it.
“Hello? Is there anyone in?”
“Just a minute, I’m dealing with something important. I’ll be with you shortly! Feel free to browse!”
Having done away with the intrusion, Gita’s attention returned to the screen. It all seemed very complicated. She tried clicking on lots of things, which seemed like a good idea. She clicked on big writing, small writing, pictures, menus and more besides. It was surprisingly good fun.
“Excuse me, I’m still out here! Could I please buy these flowers!?”
“Yes, yes, calm down, I’m coming, hold your horses and your butternuts or whatever the expression is, I’m having an emergency!”
“Oh no! Can I help?”
“No, no, just stay there! I’ll be out in a minute!”
Gita cursed under her breath at the impertinence and annoying-ness of the customer. Could they not tell that she was busy clicking on things? Regardless, her attention returned to the screen to see what was on it now. There was a large image of a particularly pretty set of silver crystals that looked very nice indeed.
She clicked on the picture-
“Can you please either come out here and serve me or tell me what you’re doing!?”
“Okay! Okay! Just give me one second!”
In her haste to finish up with what was a highly critical task, Gita clicked the thingy that said “BID NOW”, and inputted the sum that she was willing to spend on it. She would go to £30.00 and no more.
Swiftly, after completing the transaction, which was surprisingly simple, Gita exited the back room and served her customer.
“At last! What was it that was such a problem back there?”
“Oh, just an emergency about some crystals, and also, I needed to prove a point to that Mrs Hatran, you know, she came into my shop earlier, and do you know what she said? She told me that I wasn’t even…”
The customer resolved to try an alternative flower shop next time.
Gita returned to her computer to see that she had success in bidding for the item; the crystals were already on their way and the money had been taken from her account. Delighted with herself, she returned to the front of the shop.
“Gita, I’ve had a call from the bank- have you been buying something again?!”
Gita sauntered downstairs in her dressing gown; it was far too early in the morning for this sort of conversation. She needed her rest, after all, if she was going to have another full-on day of talking to everybody.
“What? No, Haresh, only milk and bread and some crystals. Go to sleep, Haresh, stop answering the phone every time the bank calls. Has Rani had breakfast?”
Haresh did not like it when Gita asked questions about Rani, in her absent-mindedness. He wondered whether she had truly forgotten, yet again, that Rani was no longer living with them, or whether Gita was playing cruel mind games with him. Of course, Gita was hardly capable of mind games even when she was awake, so he assumed the former, once again.
“The bank said that three thousand pounds had been taken out of the account!”
“That’s nice, dear. Go back to sleep.”
Gita clumped back upstairs in her mismatched rabbit slipper and pink fluffy sock and collapsed once more into an orchestra of snores.
Haresh decided against returning to bed on account of the fact that he would never fall asleep.
“Hello? Oh, it’s you again. Look, I’ve looked into my finances, and I can’t see how it could have- can’t you just track where the money went? You’re the bank! What? The credit card company? Why?”
Haresh could not deal with this before he had had his coffee. Once he had drunk his regular morning coffee, everything would be fine, and he would know exactly what to do. Right now, however, it was all he could muster not to swear loudly at them and tell them, none too politely, to go away.
“Look, can you not just cancel the transaction or something? I don’t just have three thousand pound lying around, you know!”
The bank man was very annoying. He kept repeating the same thing, which was essentially that it was a very odd thing that he was powerless to change and was Haresh sure that he was in a stable job and should the bank seize his house in fear of him falling back on his mortgage and would Mr Chandra like to cancel his cards?
Through the increasingly heated arguments, Gita slept.
“We’ve lost HOW MUCH!?”
This was how Gita greeted her husband when she finally deigned to come downstairs, not having even bothered to get dressed beforehand. She had been having a very pleasant dream in which Sarah Jane had introduced her to an alien race that was incapable of speech so they listened to her talk all day and all night without getting bored, when she had fitfully and brutally recalled what Haresh had said to her earlier on about them not having any money any more. Or some such.
“Three thousand pounds. Do you know why? What have you bought recently?”
“Er, just milk and bread and crystals.”
“You said that last time. What do you mean, crystals?”
At last, thought Gita to herself, she could do some talking, rather than asking fretful questions. She hated asking questions. It meant that she couldn’t embark on any monologues.
“Ah! Well, Mrs Hatran said that I needed to be taught to use the, er, interweb, or some such, because I am an old woman- me! An old woman! When she’s at least fifty years older than I am!- so I decided to buy some crystals on the Hebay or whatever it was. And very pretty ones too, all purple and glistening, very very shiny. I love shiny crystals, don’t you? Anyway, I paid thirty pound for them, which frankly is a bargain if you ask me, so I was very pleased with myself. Anyway, I’m still waiting for them to arrive. Has the postman been?”
“Well, yes, it’s three in the aftern-”
“Did he bring my crystals? I’ve been waiting for my crystals. Ooh, I’ve just had a thought. I wonder if they know where I live. Wow, the interweb really is clever, isn’t it? They didn’t even ask me for my address and they sent to crystals to my house! I wonder how they managed that!”
Meanwhile, in Crawford, Mr and Mrs Dibble were delighted to receive a set of purple shiny crystals.
“Do the government spy on us using the computers? Ooh, that’s weird, isn’t it! That’s scary! I don’t want them to do that! What if I brought my computer into the shower with me?”
Haresh had already zoned out. He was focusing on how, exactly, £3000 had gone missing. Being the more technologically savvy of the couple, he decided to check the Ebay transaction on the knackered computer that resided in the shop (for the primary purpose of disintegrating peacefully).
The recent transactions included a purchase of £3000 for some crystals. There was a phone number on the page for the seller. He called it.
“Hello, my name is Mr Chandra, and I recently bought some crystals from you but paid rather a bit more than I was expecting! Could we possibly undo the deal somewhat? We only wanted to pay £30! Oh, yes, lovely, thank you very much. And what did you say your name was?”
Haresh spluttered into his fifth cup of coffee as the seller revealed their identity.
Fortunately, Mrs Hatran was happy to return £2970 from the transaction.
She maintained ever after that she had been correct in thinking that Gita needed lessons in the internet.
She also found that, mysteriously, every time after that that she ordered flowers from her local florist, they arrived dead…
Bloomin' Lovely returns next week with The Supplier...