Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Check-Out Pioneer



Blueberries, blueberries, two for five, the little packages.  I could eat those and they would go good with bananas, but really how much time am I going to spend in the next five days eating fruit?  Why spend five dollars on a favorite item when if it wasn’t present, I wouldn’t miss it?

Sixty-five dollars…I can’t believe I’m getting out of a grocery store below a hundred.  I high-five myself in my brain.  I get carried away in the exhilaration of the moment and start paying attention to what’s going on around me.  I see that the grocery check-out pioneer is battling with the buttons.  There is nervous friction between her and the bagging pioneer.

“They changed the buttons over the weekend,” your check-out person says, smiling. “It’s slowing us down.”

“The only time I was let go from a job was when I couldn’t punch the buttons fast enough,” you say. “I was 18 or 19, selling pizzas, and for whatever reason I could not match the pizza to the button on the register.  The buttons were pre-destined to the pizzas, and I couldn’t make the match between the orders and the buttons fast enough.”

The most-fun part of that job was making the pizzas, from swirling the dough around to spreading the sauce on it to sprinkling the cheeses to distributing the toppings to making sure it didn’t burn.  Least-fun part of that job: the drivers.

You realize you’ve taken liberties with people’s attention spans again.  Next stop, Petco.

When is this place going to get sliding doors, when are they going to put the carts outside, why do I have to choose between a big cart and a small cart?  I am again lumbering in my thoughts when I see the guinea pigs being fed.  Their pack-like, kittenesque behavior softens me.  I push to the cat section for food, litter, and treats.  Having felt like the bushy-haired one-armed intruder for the better part of my life, I hope that nobody is watching me as I once again scope out the cat trees.  I have a ten percent coupon off everything and this one tree is exactly right.  I’ve been waiting for years for an elevated surface to share with my loved ones, but I never wanted to spend too much.

The manager—a tall, lively young man with crooked teeth and his own cats—helps you to utilize your expired coupon, taking ten percent off every item on your receipt, one by one.  Apparently, the check-out machines are now jinxed against the freewheeling use of expired coupons. 

I try to tip the manager five bucks after he helps me stuff my new inanimate object into the backseat of my car, backseat windows down.  He waves me off.  I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio wiping his nose in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?  Such a good run out of the stable, such a sorry finish.

*

It’s next week already, or tomorrow: you’re back at work, looking for a place to park.  You’re already out in the boondocks because you appreciate the walk and the little bit of nature you get on the way to your building.  You turn right too soon out of disconcentration, passing the empty “Employee of the Month” spot again.  You pass it every time you turn right too soon, but nobody ever parks there.










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