Line Karma (a haunting true story)
May 26, 2009
I do not like the grocery store. The milling crowds and assorted humanity rile me. Yesterday I waited too long and was forced go during peak hours: a jostling, glaring, patience wearing ordeal. Still, it was largely uneventful until I attempted to pay.
In my initial line there was a 250lb old woman in a tuxedo shirt and pants, sans bra, with no visible feet. What was visible, however, through her sweat soaked formal wear, were her pendulous breasts: cavorting like deflated twin manatees wrestling for food. I tried to ignore her, and them, but they rustled and whispered against the fabric like a double endowed Kuato. I feared their secrets enough I broke my cardinal rule and switched grocery lines midstream. Karma frowned upon me.
At the front of the secondary express line was a forty something woman buying eight huge, custom decorated, cakes. Apparently she had negotiated some side deal with the baker and felt the need to relate the entirely of their conversation verbatim to the cashier…despite the fact the agreed upon price was stamped on the top of each box. I’m not sure if her goal was to impress us with her haggling savvy, or assuage her intense loneliness, but much time was consumed in the process. She then produced a wad of confederate money, two different kinds of cheques, and an expired credit card before relenting and paying in Canadian currency.
Next in line, directly in front of me, was a palsied old man purchasing six tins of cat food. He placed each one on the conveyor with the deliberation of a chess grandmaster; occasionally stopping entirely to remember where the hell he was. He then attempted to remove the necessary change: the first attempt was so lingering, and involved so much pocket jiggling, I half suspected he was trying to barter public self release for wet cat food. The second and third attempts were even less successful. I considered reaching into his pocket to retrieve the change for him, but feared he may have cut the fabric out entirely in a cagey gambit for illicit human contact.
Eventually he paid and I was able breeze through my turn. Though I lament the trauma of that day I know it was not undeserved: never switch lines. Ever.