Sunday, March 2, 2014

Shopping fracas from 1-8

Food shopping is a nightmare at the best of times. I mean think about it. You buy the food, bag it, bring it home, unbag it, store it; then you're too tired to cook it.

I live in Toronto where it has been -29 degrees for weeks with no sun and everyone is grouchy and praying for spring.  I am giving this weather detail up front so I might not be judged so harshly. I live right next to the University of Toronto so I often sink to the Metro food store where all the University kids shop. I wound up there last night  which  was a Saturday and there were thousands of students shopping for frozen Mcnuggets and Kraft cheese slices.

I really don't cook so I only buy things like raspberries for munching and milk for my tea. I never buy more than 8 items so I can get in the short 1-8  express lineup.   There were 21 people ahead of me and the lineup snaked into the baked goods aisle. The guy in front of me ( who happened to be black as was the check out woman -- this is important for the story) had way more than 8 items. He had 15 items.

My anger was rising as I crept forward in the outrageous line. I was sweating in my unbreathable winter gear. Finally when we got up to the conveyor belt I could stand it no longer and said to him  "You have more than 8 items and should be in another line up."

He turned to me and said in a really loud voice, "There are 500 people here. Why did you choose me to say that to?" Now everyone was looking.  Almost everyone was from another country so they just looked at their carts. No one wanted to get involved. I responded, "Because you are in front of me and my anger has been building." I looked at the check out woman for verification but she just looked at me as though I was a member of the Klan.   Then the black man said, "Well, now I know you don't think I can read, but I actually wonder if you can read.  He pointed to a sign and said,  "Ok, honey let's sound this out together. Then he read the sign slowly pointing to each letter with his finger. It said 1-16 ITEMS ONLY.

Oops. I said "Wow, how long has that been there?"  The check out woman said "I don't know lady but it was here when I came 6 years ago." I said 'That is weird because I have been coming here for 30 years and never saw it. She said, "The 1-8 aisle is next door." This was all said with a scowl on her face.

This was like a social science experiment like the ones I used to be involved in when I was a psychologist.  I figured the truth was the best at this point, "Gee, I guess I had free floating anger and it glommed onto the extra 8 items in your cart. "  He shook his head and I added, "Maybe I need checkout rehab." He said , "Lady you could never find the sign to get there."  The clerk said, "Move this idiocy along" as she snapped on the conveyor belt and it was over. I sheepishly crept my Visa in to the machine and crawled out.

After that contretemps I needed a tea so I slipped across the street into Tim Horton's.  There was the black man with his 15 items in a bag at his feet. I got my tea and when I went to my table I couldn't resist saying "Hey this table is reserved for the handicapped."  We both broke out in gales of laughter.  He said "Dear Lord, you are everywhere."  I joined him uninvited. He was about my son's age and is  in the faculty of education hoping to be a teacher.  He said he was hoping to teach children to read, but now he realized he had to broaden that mandate.  Any way his name is Raf and he swore he would come to my upcoming book launch.