Sunday, May 15, 2016

Not Earning My People Person Merit Badge

We'll all seen people with sweatshirts or tee-shirts that say 'ask me about my grandchildren.' At some point in the past unknown to me, I must have been fitted with one that says 'tell me about anything-I don't mind.' 

I was in the local grocery earlier this week grabbing some sports drinks, as if what I attempt now at Planet Fitness in nearly the middle of the night could ever be mistaken for physical exertion. 

Humor me, okay? If I want to think it's a workout, what's the harm in letting me have this little fantasy? It isn't, and if cornered I'd admit it, but I do get winded and a bit sweaty and parts of me hurt until the Tylenol kicks in. Plus I look cool with a multi-pack sports drink in my hand as I stand in line. I get almost as much of a workout carrying that to the register as I do while on the treadmill. 

I wound up behind a fellow carrying a lot of stuff in his bare hands, without the benefit of a shopping cart or a basket. I've had that happen, where I get ambushed in the baked goods by freshly made oatmeal and raisin cookies while I sort of have my hands already full (a reach exceeds grasp moment). Have there been times I've parked the item I originally came into the store to get and bought a lot of other stuff, taken it all out to the car and then returned for the original item? Yep, guilty as charged.

Not sure what happened with this guy. He was pushing a bag of charcoal briquettes in front of him with his shoes, nudging them along, but did not seem to have any meat you would normally associate with grilling in his hands (and I don't care to imagine where else he might have put it). I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I've never been hijacked by briquettes when I'm Lost in the Supermarket, so I didn't have the highest regard for this fellow.

Then he started mumbling. From where I was behind him (I scrupulously enforce that ATM space rule when I'm in line. It will never be my hot breath you feel on your neck and vice versa), I thought he was talking to the scandal magazines alongside the gum and candy. One of the most sobering aspects of growing old is how, as I've aged, less and less of the headlines or pictured celebrities mean anything to me at all. 

One of magazine covers had someone who is so famous she only has a first name, and a CW TV show, but I have no idea who she is or the name of the show and no matter how often my daughter (and even my wife) tells me, I never learn it. There's nothing sadder than an aging hipster.

Anyway, Marty Mumbles seemed to be talking to the magazine with what looked like Mel Gibson and (maybe) a girlfriend or daughter as a thumbnail sized photo on the cover. I think there was a wife of a famous politician staring bravely if blankly into the lens to emphasize how she's sticking with Bob, or Dave or Doug, though I hadn't asked. Sometimes I think the USA is now The Truman Show, and not Harry S, except the batteries have been removed from the remote and we can't change the channel. 

The fellow in front of me wasn't talking to Mel. I looked up to realize, as he stacked his stuff (and '12 Items or less' became a suggestion, exactly when? I missed that memo) as high as he could on the smallest possible amount of space on the conveyor belt, he was actually talking at me. There was a reasonable amount of frantic head nodding and eye-blinking, but no contact, which was of no help at all in understanding a single word of whatever he was, or wasn't, saying. 

All the while the cashier was scanning his stuff, he had his back to her, addressing me. I always get these guys so I just bided my time. When she announced the total, I had to point him, using the smile and nod technique (and NO sudden movements) in her general direction so that he realized the ride was just about done.

 Of course, he wasn't prepared to pay and went through his pockets looking for cash, paper, and coins, before defaulting to a credit card, shuffling off with enough plastic bags to choke a landfill all the while jabbering away to anyone (else) who made eye contact.

When I handed the cashier my sole item, she remarked that she hadn't seen me 'in here with that guy before' as if I made it a practice to collect strangers in the night. I thought about telling her just that and then decided silence, in my case, was golden. Besides, if I dawdled, I'd be late for the cookout, and that would never do.
-bill kenny

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