Shit was not going as planned.
It’s the Sunday before Christmas and I was just starting to make my baked gifts. My pretzel turtles were nearly complete. I had just whipped up the Whiskey cakes. I was going to power through this day!
Then, the Whiskey cakes exploded in the oven. I should have gone with my gut feeling. The little disposable aluminum pans were too small. When I bought them from Walmart, I worried that the one compromised inch was going to screw me over. And it did.
I shut off the oven and pulled my booze volcanos out. Cake had puddled all over the oven’s floor. “This shit is not going as planned.”
I needed a breather. I would go grocery shopping. I would come back and get some chicken and dumplings going in the crockpot. I would clean up this mess and get a fresh start. Everything was going to be alright.
I buzzed through the store quickly, only slowing my speed to chat with my classmate Michelle. We discussed my cake explosion, which we both agreed could have been worse, and how Food Lion now offers Friendly’s ice cream. I was then off to the checkout counter to get the hell out of Dodge.
I loaded my cart’s contents carefully on the conveyer belt while I waited my turn. If you want to see my OCD in full swing, come witness me in the grocery store. I group my items carefully and pray that the cashier will take note to the organization I have provided them. You may hear me mutter, “Dairy … meat… canned good.”
I double checked the line of goodies and let a small smile appear on my lips. I was ready to get wrung up. That’s when I glanced behind me.
There was a man behind me with nothing but two poinsettias. This man, for a lack of better description, was special. I wish I knew the exact terminology for his handicap, but I don’t. His attention was focused on his plants.
Now I have you know, I was raised right. I know all about good manners and being kind to those who are who are disabled. I know that you should always let someone who has a few items go ahead of you when you have a week’s worth of groceries.
“Sir, would you like to go ahead of me? You just have those two flowers.”
He sized up my order and then his gaze went back to his flowers, which he soon scooped up. He walked past me and said, “Thank you first.”
“You are certainly welcome.”
He stood silently for a moment and then turned around. “You are really nice. Can I give you a hug?”
“Sure.” I open my arms and accept his embrace. I have personal space issues, but I make exceptions in certain situations.
“Thank you first.”
“You’re welcome again.”
It wasn’t long before he had turned back to me. “Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Yes. Yes, I do.”
“You should leave him. I could be your boyfriend.”
That is when I was for sure shit wasn’t going to go as planned at all.
“You know, he really depends on me to cook dinner for him. He’d be really sad if I wasn’t there to make his dinner.”
“You should still leave him. I could make you dinner.”
Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into? “It’s a lovely offer, but I’m going to stick with what I got. Thanks.”
The cashier now has his poinsettias, so his attention is focused elsewhere. “Those are two for ten, right?”
The cashier responds, “They are five dollars each.”
“The sign says two for ten.”
“Yes, they are five dollars each.”
“But the sign says two for ten.”
Yes… this went on for a while. Finally, it was settled and the cashier gave him his total. “That’s going to be ten dollars and fifty two cents.”
The man looked down at his money. He held two five dollar bills. He hadn’t planned on the tax. There was a silent showdown between customer and cashier, until a solution came about.
The man pointed back to me and said, “She’ll take care of the rest.”
Startled, all I could do was raise my eyebrow. People were staring. All they could see was that mean redhead that wouldn’t loan the special guy fifty two cents. No one was looking when I let him cut line or when I hugged him. I pulled my bag up and started sifting through.
“I’m going to look, but I gave my loose change to the bell ringers yesterday.” I dug and dug, shook and shook. I had no change.
The man shrugs and pulls out his wallet, where he had a giant wad of currency tucked in. I’m not sure how long my mouth hung open. This man almost swindled me!
After another heated moment involving his desire for the plants to be bagged, he finally headed to the exit. He stood for a moment and turned as if he was searching the horizon. Then this man, who had to be in his sixties started yelling, “Mom! Mom!” Then, he headed for the door.
I thought to myself, Dear God, this trip couldn’t have been any weirder.
As the cashier started on my groceries, a tall slender woman approached the register… and by approached I mean she bypassed the conveyor belt with all my groceries and started piling hers up on the ledge used for check writing convenience.
Was she trying to skip me in line? My invoice was open! It wasn’t like I could let her step ahead of me now.
“Hey, beautiful!” She said to our cashier.
She turned to the cashier behind us and repeated herself. “Hey, beautiful!”
I knew that this left only one person for her to converse with.
She leans down to me and whispers RIGHT in my ear, “I’m seventy seven years old.” She leans back up so she can survey my expression.
“Really? You’re looking good. I would have never guessed that.”
“Well, you should have! I have kids, grandkids, great grandkids.” She’s back down to my ear and says, “I have a boyfriend, but I’m going to get three more.”
“Good for you! Doing better than most of us then, aren’t you?”
She nods. “I bet you have a boyfriend.”
“Yes, I do.” Is this dejavu? I’m seriously thinking about making that boyfriend come with me to the store for now on.
She crouches down again, blatantly unaware that my personal space issues have been infringed upon WAY TOO MUCH today, “I’m sixty four years old.” She returns to her standing position and she is just as proud as when she was at seventy seven years old two minutes ago.
“Really?” Dear God, save me from this madness!
She bows down (for the final time, thank you sweet Jesus!) and speaks these words. “I’m going to get three more boyfriends and make them all drop their drawers for me.”
How do you respond to that?
You respond by violently swiping your method of payment with little regard to the total and you get the hell out of that store!
I did see her before I made it on the road that afternoon. She pointed at me and yelled, “There you are again!”
This type of ordeal happens to me all the time. I’ve never quite figured out why. I want to blame it on genetics, for my mother is also victim to these situations. Is there something in my mannerism that suggests I’ll pick up the tax on your purchase? Can people see that I strive to be a good person? Or do they just like pushing the obsessive compulsive personal space complexities to the max?
I’m uncertain. When given the opportunity again, I would probably react the same way. Be kind, be courteous, be patient … and sometimes, you have to be all three.