Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Do you want fries with that?

“I don’t believe in using prophylactics,” the red-headed pimply face kid lisped through his braces.

“What,” I said.

“I don’t believe in using prophylactics,” he said again pointing at the People magazine I had purchased with the picture of the Duggar family on the cover, “but I think they should use them.”

Then he went on with a full dissertation of the, admittedly, fascinating Duggar family and their (now) 19 kids and counting as he rung up my groceries. About the time he was telling me he thought they weren’t all really their kids, it dawned on me that I was being held captive by my milk, bread, and eggs. And it wasn’t the first time.

Recently, I have had a grocery story clerk tell me about her deceased cat Coco as she rang up my dog food, another told me (as she scanned my toilet paper) about her much younger boyfriend who went to stay with his mama whenever he got mad at her, and another sang to me as she sliced my sandwich meat. I smiled and nodded and tried to be polite.

I’ve written about family, friends, neighbors, and even a (previous) boss or two, but I’ve hesitated to write about this. What if the cashiers read it, and I’m banned to a fate worse than death, also known as Wal-mart shopping?

After my most recent encounter, I decided to risk it. As the cashiers share – a modern term for blabbing - I try to tell myself that it probably helps them pass the time, that they are bored or perhaps they are just being friendly. It’s not their fault that I’m on my way home from work, trying to scrape up dinner for a nest of hungry little birdies who are constantly causing my cell phone to chirp. Yet, do I really need to know what classes the clerk takes at college or what size she used to be?

Another thing clerks now have a tendency to do (as illustrated above) is comment on what I am buying. Recently, the clerk scanned tomato sauce, tomato paste, lasagna noodles, hamburger meat and mozzarella cheese.

“Making lasagna?”


“My mama used to make the best lasagna. I don’t use the cottage cheese. I always use the ricotta. Don’t you want the ricotta?”

“No, thank you.”

“Are you sure?”

That’s become another pet-peeve of mine. The “Are you sure?” I hear that a lot in restaurants. For example, with my food allergies, I generally avoid salad dressing.

“No dressing, please.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“We have ranch, blue cheese, the Italian is really good.”

“No, thank you, no dressing.”

“Just dry?”

“Yes, that’s how I like it,” I usually respond to save myself a long discussion on what I’m allergic to, how I found and why.

The waitress will then give me a funny look and bring me a salad with dressing on it anyway.

And what’s the deal with drive thrus? I’ll place my order, and they’ll say, “Is that all?”

“Yes, that’s all.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“What about a fried pie?”

“No, thank you.”

“Want to try a mocamamino?”

“A what?”

“A mo-cha frap-pu-ccin-oooo”

“Oh, no, thank you.”

“Want to medium or super-size your meal?”

“No, I just want to eat!”

I’ll admit it causes me to lose my temper sometimes. Once, after a similar experience at Hardees, I yelled something unfriendly into the loud speaker only to look in my mirror and see my preacher driving the vehicle behind me. My biscuit didn’t taste as good with that side order of guilt.

As far as my (occasional) temper tantrums or tendency to throw a fit, if you prefer, I definitely get that from my dad. He’s never had much patience with salesclerks and waitresses who hover, etc. Fortunately, we both have Mama. My mother has the knack for making every person – grocery store clerks, waitresses, mail carriers and on and on - feel like the most important person in the world. You know why? Because at that moment, they are. My mother doesn’t ignore people or brush them off like I try my best not to do. Even when she’s in a hurry, she takes a genuine interest in them, taking the time to ask questions and find out more about them. My grandmother was the same way. It is certainly a gift. And, THAT is something I’m sure of.

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