I really should start a site for disgruntled shoppers. Those who get about as much respect as Rodney Dangerfield. Lately, I feel like I have a sign on my back, and front, and tattooed on my forehead, that says, "PATSY." And I don't mean that in the manner of being labeled with a given name, like a pair of underwear headed to summer camp.
Last week, I stopped by Country Mart. I actually went down the aisles this time, not just to the lottery ticket dispensing machines up front by the door. I didn't take a cart. All I needed was a card. A Father's Day card for Farmer H. Country Mart has decent cards at decent prices. Unlike their cheese and mayonnaise, which are often past date, and overpriced.
I selected my card and went up front to check out. I'm usually there mid- to late-morning, and notice two checkers on duty. Not counting the lady at the service counter, whom I have only dealt with once in all these years, the occasion being to return expired cheese that I had bought for my grandma's Christmas basket.
Anyhoo...on this card-buying day, only one checkout was open. The one with the lady Farmer H has chatted up, who, according to him, is 81 years old. She doesn't look a day over 70, but some of us just have good genes, I guess. Her leathery tanned skin and bleached blond hair don't hurt. She has a really gruff voice, like she started smoking in the crib, and never laid down her butt.
Anyhoo...Smokey was ringing up a pair of adult ladies who might have been mother/daughter. In line behind them was an old man with a few items in his cart, among them a small watermelon. I stepped in line behind him, but that put my rumpus out in the main aisle that crosses the front of the store. An old gal pushing a cart came along, so I stepped back to give her passage. Old Gal wheeled her cart past me, made a U-turn, and
GOT IN LINE BEHIND MELON MAN!
Huh. That was just blatant line-cutting! What was I to do, shove her cart aside and get back in line? I was taken aback. That's what I get for stepping back to allow her cart to pass, I guess. Seriously. She had at least 15 items in her cart, and all I had was ONE SINGLE GREETING CARD in my hand! It's not like I was being kind and letting somebody with fewer items go ahead of me. My generosity was forced upon me!
I stood there silently stewing, and what to my dagger-shooting eyes should appear but another full-cart woman down the aisle, drawing near. And there I was again, fully in the middle of the aisle time, since the sideways cart of Old Gal was taking up the room where I previously stood, third in line. Of course I backed up into the condiment/cracker/cookie aisle to let Full Cart Woman pass by. She proceeded past me, made a U-turn, and
LINED UP AT AN ANGLE BEHIND OLD GAL!
I swear those two entitled old ladies were in cahoots! They must have attended a seminar at The Learning Annex about how to cut in line ahead of patsies at the grocery store.
What was I going to do, confront FCW? After I'd let Old Gal butt in front already? What did they think I was standing there for? It's not like I'm carved out of wood wearing a headdress and standing in front of a cigar store. I wasn't handing out food samples. I obviously had an item in my hand for which I wished to pay.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?
Now two more carts were coming up the aisle. I did not budge. Even though I'm retired, I don't have all day to stand at the end of an endless line, by cracky! THEN a young worker opened up another register several lanes to my left. "I'm open now."
It was like the starter's pistol went off at the 100 Meter Dash final at the 1968 Olympics! Old Gal and FCW wheeled their carts around and took off. I jumped across the main aisle to cozy up to Melon Man's bubble of space. The newcomers, wheels still rolling, had an advantage over Old Gal and FCW, and beat them to the new checkout.
It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that those four customers were all checked out and had exited the store before I even laid my card on the conveyor. Those two women, you see, had some major malfunction. Smokey took out a two-inch three-ring binder full of barcodes and such. The women fiddled with cards or papers or coupons in their purses. And then they were done.
You probably won't be surprised to hear that Smokey told Melon Man that he had to put his melon on the counter, that she couldn't do anything with it in the cart. So he hefted it out, and handed it over, where Smokey rolled it across the barcode scanner. Not that it had a sticker on it, mind you. Then she gave it back to him.
You probably won't be surprised to hear that after his transaction was complete, except for the paying...Melon Man fished around in his back pocket, took out a checkbook, thumbed around in it, meticulously tore loose a check, handed it to Smokey, and said, "Fill that out and I'll sign it." Not that Country Mart has one of those things where you insert the check and it gets printed, like The Devil's Playground. Nope. Smokey had to fill that check out by hand. But Melon Man signed it!
Melon Man was in a chatty mood after he got his receipt. He still stood there. Turned to me and said,
"Got me a burger over at Dairy Queen."
"Oh! The A1 Bacon Cheeseburger? I keep seeing those commercials. One of these days I'm going to try one."
"Well, it was good. But it was only THIS big." He held out his hands, making a circle that would have enclosed a tennis ball. "But I had fries and a soda and a ice cream, too."
Yeah. It takes longer to buy a card when you're retired.
I was hoping things would run more smoothly for me. After all, on the way into the store, I'd bent over and picked up a big screw from the handicap spot (one of about 20) right in front of the door. I'm pretty sure it fell there the day before, when a man was screwing on new letters above the door, making me pretty certain that one of them, or the worker himself, would come crashing down on me as I entered to buy my scratch-off tickets out of the machine. Kind of an embarrassing way to meet your demise.
Even Steven must have been asleep at the switch. You'd think saving a differently-abled person from getting a flat tire would at least merit an uneventful Father's Day card purchase.