By Louise Ure
Okay, the good news is I’m not in jail.
The bad news is that I’ve probably been banned for life from the only grocery store within walking distance.
Here’s what happened. God’s Own Truth. Well, as close to that as I’m ever likely to go; I do have a horse in this race.
It started last week. It was about twelve noon. I hadn’t showered yet (hell, sometimes I don’t get around to that until four o’clock or so), the teensy ever-so-healthy yogurt I’d had for breakfast wasn’t do its job, and there was not a scrap of food in the house.
What’s a girl to do? I hotfooted it down to the corner grocery store in my scrubs.
Have I mentioned the hospital scrubs before? No? They are my usual sit-at-the-computer wear. No sweat pants and bunny slippers for me. I learned long ago that the dog’s diarrhea or the impatient Fed Ex guy pounding on the door would not wait for me to put on anything remotely presentable to the outside world, so I opted for scrubs.
None of those cheesy pastel shades, either. If you’re a woman walking the dog at high noon in a pair of pink scrubs, the neighbors either think you’ve got one of those jobs emptying bedpans or they ask if you’ve got an extra day in your schedule to be nanny to their little ones.
No, I only wear black scrubs. No matter the time of day, black scrubs either say “I’m on my way back from a Tae Kwan Do class,” or “I’m a cardiac surgeon so don’t bother me with anything trivial like the fact that my dog’s pee is killing your lawn.” I’ve even been tempted to get the stethoscope out of my father’s old medical bag and drape it around my neck to achieve the desired approbation.
So I’m in the “10 items or less” line at the grocery store with my ever-so-healthy lunch — (OK, It was hot dogs and buns and these giant pickle spears) – and the young girl behind the register scans the items – bink, bink, bink – looks up at me and says:
“Eating for two are we?”
As anyone who has ever read the consumption/nutrition label on a canned soft drink knows, of course I’m eating for two! Those idiots at the nutritional guideline place think even a can of Coke has two servings.
But could she … does she mean … not possible. I wicked my hand down across my belly to flatten the blousy black cloth.
“Why on earth would you say that?” I purred in the most syrupy, Southern accent I could muster with my teeth clenched. What I wanted to say was, “May your lips be eaten by that cherry-popsicle lipstick you’re wearing and may your teeth all fall out.”
“No reason,” she says looking down. “Just the pickles.”
The pickles? Does any man who comes in here buying pickles get this same kind of presumptive inquisition about whether or not his significant other is pregnant? Does it matter if they’re sweet pickles versus dill?
I harrumphed and left the premises before I could tell her exactly what I thought of her medical diagnostic skills. And her intelligence. And her lack of courtesy. And her greasy hair. And her cudlike gum-chewing visage. And that fact that I’ve already lost twenty pounds this year, thank you very much.
The hot dogs quelled my tantrum and I’d practically forgotten the episode … until yesterday.
Once again I needed a few key ingredients for dinner. Like the meat. And the potatoes. And the vegetables. But I’d had appointments earlier in the day at the hairdresser and the vet’s so this time I was already sparkly clean and wearing real, outside clothes. Dark-washed, straight-leg jeans that Stacy and Clinton would have approved of. A real, ironed blouse that already had all the darts and seaming in place to hug the body. High-heeled lime green sandals. I had it going on.
Once again, only the “10 items or less” station is open (does this store have any customers who buy more than ten items?), and once again, my nemesis is there. Her eyes say that she remembers our last encounter. She nods at me and starts to pull the items one by one across the scanner.
Fine with me. I don’t need a new friend, especially one who knows I go for 100% proof mayonnaise and canned corned beef hash. I take my small bag and receipt and turn to the door.
That’s when I saw it. There, the penultimate inky line on the receipt.
“5% Senior Discount = $1.16”
I froze, the muscles in my jaw clenched. Imagine a female Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino mode.
“Make up your mind,” I said, turning back to her. “Am I young and pregnant? Or am I old and fat? Take your time. There’s a lot riding on your answer.”
Who knew that grocery stores’ security systems came with such high-pitched alarms? Once she released the button she scurried two stations down to put some distance between us. I was escorted out by the manager and a skinny little Asian security guy in a jacket that was two sizes too big for him.
I kept the $1.16 in savings.
So tell me, Rati, what are your Rudest Encounters of the Third Kind (either on your part or on theirs)? And don’t tell me I’m wound a little tight this week. I already know that part.
P.S. Come join us for this San Francisco treat!