Sunday, December 18, 2005

Catch & Release

I didn't have much going on for a Saturday night, not having to go spend eight hours on safari in the Green Felt Jungle. So I spent the evening relaxing and watching football. I was out of Coca Cola, and was getting a bit thirsty by the time the third game of the day rolled around. So I made the trip down the block and across the street to the local Vons to pick up some provisions.

There wasn't a lot on my list this time around, so it didn't take long. But the grocery store was fairly busy, being the last Saturday before the holiday weekend. Unfortunately, I was unable to utilize the express lane, having gone over the 15 item limit. So I got in the long line. About that time a couple of self-important bitches who spend way too much time in front of the mirror and on their cellphones walked up with their cart, loaded to the hilt with booze and last-minute party supplies.

The genteel folk from Green Hills might refer to them as 'New Money'.

Instead of getting in line like the rest of us, they cut off a tired looking elderly gent who was carrying only a loaf of bread and a carton of milk, and started unloading their goods on the conveyer belt in the express line, oblivious to the rest of the world. Several of the rest of us shoppers just looked at each other in disbelief.

For some reason, this really pissed me off. Maybe it was the old man, too timid to say anything, or maybe I was ticked that the cashier didn't say anything either, but I felt like I had to right this injustice. Leaving my cart where it was, I walked up behind them and announced loudly--

Man, the public schools out here must really suck. Nobody can count to fifteen anymore!

That remark got a few snickers from the bystanders, and the Guilty Ones paused for a second, the realization crossing their faces that somebody was actually going to shame them for their bad manners.

Oh, is this the express lane? Sorry, we didn't see the sign.

By that time, they'd already emptied most of their cart and felt safe that nobody would insist that they get in another line, so I took it another step further and applied a little more pressure.

You didn't see the sign? What, you've never been here before? You thought the rest of us were just standing in line leaving that lane open because we all have so much free time on our hands? But I see you have a Von's club card in your hand--clearly you've been here before. Maybe you decided to cut off that nice older gentleman there because you thought you were more important than the rest of us... That's just plain rude. I can't believe your parents didn't teach you better manners.

I was on a roll...

And I bet you didn't think somebody would call you out, either.

The cashier, not wanting to get involved, set a speed record in getting their purchases rung up and bagged. I went back to my cart and just stared them down, along with the rest of my line-standing compatriots, and the rude Paris Hilton-wannabes were afraid to even look up after that--everybody in the front of the store was staring at them by the time I finished my little tirade. They pushed their cart out the door as quickly as they could, and a couple of people gave me a pat on the shoulder telling me that they were glad I said something.

When I got to the cashier, she said the same thing, telling me that they weren't allowed to tell people to get in the right line if nobody was waiting. Of course, I generally want to avoid conflict, especially with strangers, but something about the whole situation just pissed me off. Shame works wonders in changing behavior, and I bet they won't ever do that again.

Anyhow, after that little drama had passed, I guess I scored some points with my fellow shoppers. One of the items in my basket was another bag of the lime-flavored ice cubes that I've mentioned in previous posts. As I was setting them on the belt, the rather attractive lass in line behind me struck up a conversation, asking if those ice cubes were any good.

I told her that not only were they excellent, but that's all I buy now--no more plain ice cubes for me. I said the best thing to do was get a bottle of coconut rum and some coke, and mix up a little bit of Caribbean vacation in a glass, and in fact, I was on my way to have some right then.

Her response was Oh man, I love Malibu rum--I could totally go for some of that right now!


That little lightbulb attached to the opposite-sex sensors in my brain started flashing like a railroad crossing. Having just become a minor-league hero in the grocery store, a golden opportunity presented itself to me right there in the check-out line.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel like I had my A-game with me--I hadn't showered or shaved all day, I was still wearing the same clothes I'd slept in the night before, and my current lack of bedroom furniture would likely put a crimp in my entertaining ability (it's like the ragging I used to do to Derek--Brothaman makes fifty grand a year, still doesn't own a bed...).

So instead of making an effort and closing the deal, I played my 'blissfully clueless' card and said Yeah, you outta go back and get you some, it's pretty damn good. And if all you get is three items, you can even use the express line!

Laughs all around. With that, I gave her a wink, grabbed my receipt and my groceries and headed off to the parking lot.

I rode off into the sunset, alone.

When I got home, I fixed myself a big glass of rum & coke, put my feet up, and happily considered how my night could have turned out. About halfway through the glass I realized that you don't always need to bag your prey to know that you're still a mighty hunter.


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