Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Hurting

You gotta love the grocery store. It's where we get to experience one of the most mundane aspects of our existence: the food gathering part. Except now it's got all sorts of decisions attached to it which are far more important than HUNGRY NEED FOOD:

- is that brand cheaper than that other brand?
- is that brand more eco-friendly than that other brand?
- am I getting a good deal at this market?
- should I buy the Coppola wine or the Charles Shaw?

HUNGRY NEED FOOD doesn't ask those questions. HUNGRY NEED FOOD finds adequate food and ingests it. When we moved toward having a civilized society, we introduced money into the equation and now HUNGRY NEED FOOD must wait. And HUNGRY NEED FOOD doesn't like to wait.

Waiting happens at the checkout, where all sorts of stuff you expect to happen in places like the bank or the DMV happens: People without their shit ready. Employees not interested in efficiency. Or if you're like me (or if your face happens to look like mine), you get both in a lovely setting just one back from getting rung up at the register.

Got my food. Got cash in hand ready to fork over and begin eating. Senior citizen lady in front of me, her goods on the conveyor belt. She says, "I brought up this burrito box to see if you had any more in back."
Gorilla-sized employee working register glances at me and my food in one hand and cash in the other.
"Let me check for you, ma'am."
(It would be so easy to just throw my cash at him and be on my way, but no, I am a responsible and patient citizen.)

Employee mutters incomprehensible banter over intercom. White guy in turban hurries up to answer call. "What's that you need, T?" (Apparently T is the name of the gorilla-sized gentleman at the register)
"See if there are any more of these." (Points at empty burrito box.)
White turban guy says "I don't think there are any more, but I'll check."

In the meantime, senior lady's (who is very sweet and nice) goods are rung:
"Is it senior discount day today?"
"Senior day is on Tuesday." (This was on Monday)
"Tuesday, huh"
(No reply from employee)

"Do I sign it now?"
"Wait 'til I'm done."

"Can you help me take my groceries out to my car?"
"We'll have somebody do that for you ma'am."

Employee #2 arrives.
"Would you like all these in your canvas bag, ma'am?"
"As many as you can get in there, dear."

Employee #2 crams everything into one bag.
Senior lady stops her "It gets heavy really quickly"
Employee #2 grabs a paper bag and tosses groceries in.

White turban guy comes back empty handed.
"Sorry, we don't have any more of those burritos." He hurries away.

Employee hands senior lady her receipt and she gets her things together at her cart with employee #2.
Employee rings up my food.
I hand him my cash. "I don't need a bag."
He hands me my change and I maneuver around senior lady and employee #2, still at the cart getting organized.
Hungry. Need food.