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I'm sure the ladies of Parma are not so scrupulous

Part of my series on fun with Safeway staff.

It's bizarre when you get embroiled in someone's efforts to be helpful, especially when the job they end up doing is worse than if they'd simply not bothered. In this particular case, I never asked for anything special and did not quite have the heart to tell the two ladies at Safeway that they could simply stop fussing and not bother - they seemed so keen to fulfill this non-existent requirement that they'd assumed I had.

I wandered over to the delicatessen counter and asked for some Parma Ham. I was making a pizza for myself and did not need the quantity that comes prepackaged. the two ladies on the delicatessen counter were using both of their cutting machines for some sort of slimy breadcrumbed baked ham. After my request for the Parma ham, the lady who served me cleaned one of the machines before starting. Then she proceeded to apologise.

"Why apologise?" I thought. Apparently the machine would not cut the Parma Ham particularly thin. I was about to pipe up that I didn't care too much, but she was already trying to get the machine to cut it wafer thin. I couldn't understand where she'd come up with this need for very very thin slicing. I have a few theories:

Anyway, having failed to get any meat to emerge on settings below 2, my delicatessen assistant was about to give up and just cut the stuff at a setting that worked when her friend joined in. The Parma Ham was immediately transferred to the other machine (which did not get its pre-Parma clean) and the whole process of attempting a wafer-thin cut was repeated. During the whole process the two ladies were chattering about how the machines were not up to the job and how they'd really try to get it as thin as they could for me.

They finally managed to produce a few, sorry, breadcrumb smeared, slices of the required Parma Ham. I was so amused by the banter I'd witnessed and their earnest attempts to achieve the feat of producing it, that I accepted it graciously and cooked it on my pizza.

The pizza was very pleasant. There was real love in the ingredients.

19 April 2002
Ashley Frieze