Mrs. Hillbilly Mom wears many hats. Yesterday, she was a lay ornithologist. That's an unqualified person who studies birds. Okay, maybe untrained would be more appropriate, but for Mrs. HM, the former description fits.
The object of my study was actually one of The Devil's Handmaidens. Uh huh. I'm sure it will come as a shock to you that something was a bit off about one of the checkers at The Devil's Playground. And of course it would be the one whose line Mrs. Hilbilly Mom chose of her own accord.
She seemed normal enough when I hitched my cart to her conveyor. Sure, she looked like that chicken daughter on the Progressive Insurance commercial, where Flo says, "I didn't turn your daughter into a chicken, she just looks like that." I didn't think anything of it, until that Devil's Handmaiden turned out to be a real cuckoo.
My first clue that something might be amiss was when she came around the turntable bag thingy to scan items I left in the cart. I do that, you know, to help both of us. I always turn the bar code where her gun can reach it easily. I separate the two four-packs of strawberry water we hang on the edge of the cart so she knows to scan both of them. I'm not out to make a buck or three off The Devil.
So, in my cart, where I said, "I have some things for you to scan," I had a case of Coke, a three-pack of Puffs With Lotion, those two water four-packs, and a case of bendy straws. Yeah. It's not like I sip Coke like a fiend through striped bendy straws. They're for class. We build towers out of them, to support a tennis ball. So I picked up the whole box off the shelf, which had 12 individual boxes in it, each holding 100 bendy straws. That's 1200 bendy straws. I only needed 10 boxes, but in case some kids don't work well with others, I can split up a group if I have extra.
Chicker scanned the Coke and the water without incident. Then she went to the case of bendy straws. I had flipped one over to expose the bar code. So there were 12 sitting in the box, with one bar code showing.
"I flipped that one over for you. There are 12." I counted them out as I touched them. "Two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve." One would expect most checkers to scan the one, and hit the thingy to multiply it by 12. Not Chicker. She obsessively scanned that one single box of bendy straws twelve times. Then she moved on to the Puffs. Picked it up by the top, with her hand right over the bar code. She turned it every which way but loose, as I tried to help her.
"It's right there. Under your hand. Under your hand. Under your hand." Chicker finally set that three-pack back down and looked under her hand, and scanned it.
That in itself, even combined with her fowl appearance, was not enough for me to classify her as cuckoo. It was what happened as I moved bags into my cart. I grabbed them as she turned the carousel, glanced in to see if it was cold stuff to sort out in the back of T-Hoe to put under my coat, or mashables that needed to go in that child seat part of the cart. That's when I saw it, nestled between a six-pack bag of lunch Cheetos, and a long stalks bag of celery:
A BABY BLUE CAN OF GLADE AIR FRESHENER: CLEAN LINEN!
What in the world? I don't buy that stuff. I am a Febreze kind of gal, and only for school. I did not put that in my cart. Did The Pony need it for a class? For bonus? For NHS, where they're always bringing in weird stuff like cornstarch? He was about 20 feet away, playing his driving game in the arcade. I almost hollered over to ask him, "Hey, Pony! Did you put Glade Air Freshener in the cart?" But I figured even I was not up to forcing that level of embarrassment to be inflicted on my kid. I pulled the offending smellygood out of the bag.
"Excuse me. I don't remember putting this on the counter."
Chicker looked perplexed. She took it from me. Gave it a glance. And set it over to the side of her cash register. "You didn't." And then she went on ringing up my items from the conveyor!
"Um. Did you charge me for that?"
Chicker acted like I was out of place for asking. When she gave me the receipt after I scanned my debit card, I tried to look it over. No time. No glasses. I pushed the cart over by The Pony's game. "When we get to the car, you're going to read this over for me. Did you put Glade Air Freshener in the cart?"
"Nooo. Why would I do THAT?"
"I though you might have needed it for school."
"No. I don't need air freshener."
Yeah. The Pony needs air freshener like The Devil needs a Chicker at his register. That gal was like a reverse kleptomaniac.