Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
I went to the grocery store this afternoon to fill up my refrigerator with delicious goodness. The grocery store was chock full of annoying people. At one point, two early twenty-something Chinese women (I'm still being haunted by The Chinese...not Chinese Americans...Chinese) boxed me into an aisle with their carts, and then went into another aisle. When I moved one of their carriages to get by, the woman came back and yelled at me. What she yelled at me, I'm unsure, as I still don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese or Wu or anything that resembles any of these languages.
All the checkout lanes had lines of two or three people, and none of them looked ghastly, but one of them just had one besweatpantsed old lady whose groceries were just about done being scanned. Perfect. And the cashier and bagboy were reasonably attractive, and old enough to shave, drink, and probably rent a car. Perfecter.
The cashier announced the lady's total $125.48.
"Ok, then." The lady said, and opened her purse.
In the movie version of my life, this is when you hear the sound of wind blowing; Not hurricane force, just the steady sound of troublesome air. A deep bell tolls in the distance. Maybe the upper and lower octaves on an organ start to play discordantly.
The woman pulled out $150 in five dollar gift certificates. That's right, thirty gift certificates, each worth five dollars. Each one needing to have their number typed in to the computer, individually, and then needing to go through the printer, (and, of course, they are too thin to go through the printer smoothly) individually, to be voided.
After the second GC went through, the woman apologized, and then went outside for ten minutes. FOR TEN MINUTES. I'd be more outraged had the poor cashier been able to finish during those ten minutes, but he wasn't, as it takes roughly a thirty seconds to get each GC inputted and voided. And there were thirty of them.
About three minutes after the lady disappeared, the two Chinese women slammed their cart into mine.
"It's going to be a long time." I said. "The woman in front of me paid with gift certificates."
They eyed me warily. "Take check?"
I replied, "Hippo." while nodding.
They nodded back. I suspected they might.
"I'm so sorry." The cashier said. "No one has ever done this to me before."
"It's my fault. I have terrible luck, and it follows me around and infects other people's lives."
He Spock-eyed me. "If it follows you around, how come she's in line in front of you?"
"Touche," I looked for his nametag, "Duke." And then I snorted. Beneath his nametag was a button, which read I'm the slayer, ask me how. "Buffy fan, I take it?"
He smiled awesomely.
That's when one of the bitches behind me smacked my cart with her purse a few times. "Take check? Take check?"
Duke and I looked at her dubiously. "Apparently that's the only phrase she knows." I said. "It certainly says all you need to know about her." Then I turned to her and said "Hippo, rutabaga, stop smacking my cart."
And Duke scanned, and the bagboy bagged, and the old besweatpantsed woman did whatever it was she was doing out of our sight (probably laughing maniacally), and the bitch behind me went from smacking the carriage with her purse to opening and closing the top portion of my cart in a way that expressed her outrage.
"You don't happen to know the Cantonese phrase for The next time you touch my cart, I'm going to smack you in the face with this box of frozen pirogies, do you?"
He smiled. "No, I don't even know how to say impatient cunt." And then his face turned adorably red. "I'm sorry. That was...incredibly uncalled for."
"Are you kidding? I'm tempted to give you my phone number now."
Duke turned redder.
"Take check!" Impatient Cunt yelled, slammed the side of my cart, and started taking her things off the conveyor belt.
"Yea, yea, yea. You take a check."
Of course, as soon as they left for another lane, Duke got done scanning the gift certificates. The old lady apologized (snickering under her breath, I'm sure), and took her receipt and change. And Duke scanned, and the bagboy bagged, and I thought to myself I could never fuck someone who's got the same name as my next-door-neighbors' dog. But I could grab pizza with him or something. A pesto pizza and a glass of rootbeer. I must be hungry. Good thing I'm buying groceries. Right, groceries. I'm in a grocery store. I smiled at Duke, who told me how much I owed him. "I'm sorry to do this to you, but I have to pay you in nickels."
His eyes narrowed, menacingly.
I smiled, smartassedly, as I pulled the bills out of my wallet.
"So." He said. "About that phone number."