Whenever I go to Lidl, the cashier asks if I’m collecting the football stickers. When I say “no,” she looks surprised and a tiny bit relieved.
Yesterday I went to another branch closer to work. There were loads of little girls loitering at the entrance, eyeing up the customers. If they had been bigger, I would have felt very threatened.
This time, the cashier simply handed me two football stickers with my receipt.
Outside the shop, the girls lunged at me.
“Did you get a football sticker?”
I rummaged awkwardly in my bag.
“ME! GIVE IT TO ME, GIMME!” they cried.
They were encircling me now, like prey.
“Give them to me, PLEASE!” the ringleader of the group said, coming very close to me. She had a long black plait and reached up to my shoulder.
I looked around helplessly at the many eager faces.
I picked out the one I found least threatening because it was furthest away.
“Are you collecting them too?” I asked her. She nodded shyly.
“She’s my sister!” the girl with the plait shouted.
“Are you really?” I asked the quiet one.
“We’ll share,” the plaited girl said.
I gave up and handed her the cards.
“Promise you’ll share?”
“PROMISE!” she said, grabbing the stickers and running away.
The others followed her like wolves.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to buy me rolls of stickers from the Pound shop. I stuck the best ones in a special sticker album. I kept the rest in a plastic case for future use decorating envelopes and sticking on dolls.
My album contained an entire section of glow-in-the-dark grasshopper stickers. My piece de resistance was a hologram sticker that glimmered green, blue or yellow depending on how you looked at it.
These days I don’t collect anything except for empty beer bottles. There must be about sixty in the kitchen now. Some day soon, I’ll bring them back to Lidl and get an enormous “Pfand.”
I’ll probably spend the “Pfand” on more beer. Then I’ll get more football stickers, which I’ll pass on to another pack of schoolchildren.
The circle of life.