Charlie Zailer wasn’t sure if she’d won or lost. On the victory side of the equation, she’d managed to avoid spending Christmas Day with her sister, and she’d successfully blamed it on work. Her ‘Sorry, but I have to go in for at least a few hours’, delivered in a tone that suggested it was the fault of someone intransigent in a position of authority, had been accepted without question.
On the defeat side, here she was: at work, by choice, with a cold steak-and-potato pasty in her bag as a Christmas dinner substitute, struggling to communicate with a stranger who’d judged her to be not worth speaking to. Was it her karmic comeuppance for avoiding her so-called loved ones at Christmas? If Charles Dickens had written her day, that was what this encounter would turn out to mean.