Updated: Sep 4, 2022
FORTROSE -- In a dramatic cultural reversal of what has come to be known as "Black Friday Retail Rage", two shoppers recently created a logjam in the check-out queue at the Co-Op by refusing to be the first to take a sale item. "If they wouldn't put the multibuys so close to the till," said part-time AirBnB host, Iris Massie of Station Crescent, "I'd be home by now. I'm only here because my guests just came down for breakfast and announced that they they can't take real milk or butter. Or gluten, which is some sort of fish, I reckon." Co-Op Depute Assistant Morning Duty Manager, Crick Jamieson, of Avoch, explained. "We stock our multibuys near the till to stimulate last-minute impulse purchases, thereby increasing the per-head spend." He went on to explain that these placements were like "shooting fish in a barrel" and served a dual purpose by also enabling his customers to maintain their sugar and carbohydrate intake to a Scottish national standard. Delroy Gibbons, soon to be deported for spending the first 6 months of his 67 years in a foreign country, is generally held to be first to reap the bounty of the multibuy. But this time, things didn't go to plan. "I set my alarm, as usual, for 6:19am. This way, I have one minute to organise my strategy before getting out of bed at 6:20." He told us that on his way to the Co-Op, he stopped to help a gull chick that had fallen off a neighbour's house and was wandering aimlessly around Castle Street. "Some people don't like the gulls, but until the abortion laws in this country are modernised, babies shouldn't be penalised for being born and sliding off a roof."
After guiding the dazed bird to safety, Gibbons reached the Co-Op at 7:03, only to find furious activity in progress around the multibuy bin, which he jokingly calls 'ground zero'. "As a lifelong UK resident [save the fateful first six months], I am accustomed to this sort of thing." What Gibbons referred to was the interaction between two customers, each with an eye toward being the first to grab the Jaffa Cake bargain. "The first person reached for the Jaffa Cakes and then pulled her hand away, saying to the other customer, 'sorry'. Then, the other customer replied, 'sorry'. And then there was an awkward silence and they started the whole thing over again. They must have been at it for ten minutes."
Iain Malarkee, 74, of Feddon Hill, likened the phenomenon to reverse psychology. "It is customary in this country to commence an interaction with the word, 'sorry' before any offense has taken place," he explained, as he meticulously logged the weekly decrease in the Co-Op's average aisle width. "Although it appears at first to be a true apology, it is in fact a Dickensonian weapon to get what one wants." Malarkee's obscure and surprising literary reference alludes to the poem, "'Twas such a little -- little boat" by Emily Dickenson, in which the gossamer line between gallantry and greed is illuminated through the metaphor of a boat in dangerous waters.
By this time, approximately 7:13am, the queue for the till had stretched nearly all they way to the pet food & treat section, leading to muted nattering among the increasingly-impatient customers. It was then that Gibbons decided to take action. "I approached the multibuy bin to try to defuse the situation. I took a deep breath, held it for a moment and went in." What happened next will long be remembered by those in attendance. "I took two packs of Jaffa Cakes in each hand and presented them to the customers at the same time. I honestly didn't know what was going to happen next, but I stood my ground, because I knew that -- no matter the consequences -- I was doing the right thing." The two customers looked at Gibbons, then simultaneously said "sorry," which initiated another volley of apologies between the customers. "For the second time in twenty minutes [including the gull rescue], I'd done my bit. So, I picked up my Jaffa Cakes, jumped to the front of the queue, and let them carry on, like. I don't know about anyone else, but I was late for a date with a cuppa."
As a result of his heroic and mostly-selfless management of the Jaffa Cake drama, a card is currently available at the Co-Op to be signed by grateful customers. The card will be presented to Gibbons on the final "race to the cakes" before his deportation next month. At presstime, the enormous card, which features a smiling couple on a cruise ship surrounded by champagne bottles and the words, 'Bon Voyage', has already gathered six signatures.
This article contains additional reporting by Jess Anderson