Did you ever feel that life was a series of one-act plays, and your role was that of the buffoon?
One memorable experience was at the grocery store. I grabbed a cart and attempted to maintain my normal cruising speed without my usual number of casualties. Then the aisle was blocked by a woman who was leaning on her cart, and she seemed reluctant to alter her position. A cane on her cart explained her lack of mobility, but should not have been an excuse for her rudeness.
The woman turned and asked politely, at first, if I’d get something off the shelf for her. She pointed to a bag of cheese twists and insisted those were the ones she wanted. But, when I went to hand the bag to her, it was like the Spanish Inquisition relived.
“Are those oven-baked?” she snapped impatiently.
They weren’t. I quickly found the ones that were.
Two feet later, she was asking me the difference in price of two brands of cocoa. I gave that to her after I first checked – at her request – whether one could be mixed with water.
Her next task for me? Fetch two six-packs of V-8 juice. She told me to look left. I looked right. I’m not usually this dense, but she was barking orders like a drill sergeant.
At this point, I felt I’d been had. If I cleared the cans off the shelf, would I find some smart aleck who’d say, “Smile. You’re on Candid Camera” or “You’ve been Punk’d.”
One of the clerks, a friend of mine, realized the predicament I was in and paged me to the store’s break room. To get there, I’d have to pass Old Cantankerous.
She stopped me in midflight and asked me to get her four rolls of toilet paper.
“That’s two aisles away, ma’am.”
“I know. Would you get it for me?
My face is usually an accurate barometer of my feelings. By now, a look of exasperation flashed over. I was torn between walking away and running away. I chose to walk.
“All right, run away. Don’t help me,” she shouted.
I slunk into my place of refuge – the break room. So named, because all the guys there are breaking up in hysterical laughter over the situation.
Fear not. The woman was resourceful. She soon collared one of the store’s employees and had the store clerk trotting all over the store for her.
I wasn’t anxious to cross paths with her again. So, when I renewed my shopping, I seized the opportunity to stop and talk to a shopper I knew. Then, I committed the unpardonable sin of inquiring about his health.
The gentleman gave me a blow-by-blow, non-stop narrative of all of his recent operations. His wife chose this time to bolt and finish her shopping.
When he finally paused for air, I bid him a pleasant farewell. Looking back, I prayed I wouldn’t suffer the same fate as Lot’s wife.
Not a problem. He hadn’t even realized I was gone as he was carrying on a heated discussion with some passion fruit.
So, when you’re out shopping. When you see someone frantically whipping up and down the aisles on Rollerblades. Trying to manage an erratic cart. At the same time trying to add up their purchases on a hand-held calculator. I do hope you’ll understand.
Believe me, it’s nothing personal when I whiz by you.
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