Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"K" Is (also) for Karma

What is it that makes some people seem more approachable than others? Is it as simple as making eye contact, or is there more to it?

I am evidently the go-to person for every female senior citizen over the age of 70 at any one of several conveniently-located supermarkets in my area. I don’t even think about it anymore when I’m asked to assist in finding the “A&P brand one-gallon freezer storage bags” that are not only on sale but can be purchased with another fifty cents off with the crinkled coupon clutched in one wrinkled little hand.

I’ll resist the urge to laugh out loud when they reach for reading glasses that are already perched on their noses and wait patiently while they attempt to read the snippet of paper in their hand…alternately bringing it closer, then further away from their noses…as if this will somehow make the teeny-tiny words magically come into focus.

I’ll climb onto the bottom shelf amidst the Ronzoni pasta boxes to grab the coveted last two containers of Stop & Shop Italian-style bread crumbs, sneakily hidden in the very back of the very top shelf.

I can only hope someone’ll do the same for me someday.

Way WAY off in the future, of course.

I got one of those rare opportunities to see karma-in-action today…as I stood In line with my eight Healthy Choice frozen dinners (on sale 4 for $10) and two packages of Klondike bars (buy one, get one FREE), as well as several other assorted items. I wanna say I had approximately 18 items. The lady ahead of me was talking on her cell and had approximately 172 items...give or take. It became immediately apparent that she was in no hurry to resume her life as she showed no interest in packing herself up.

Because of this observation on my part, I had not yet unloaded my items onto the conveyer belt, as everyone knows you’re totally committed once your items hit that belt. I’m glancing at the display of tabloids and notice that someone-I-don’t-know is French kissing someone-else-I-don’t-know, which is evidently worthy of a huge exclamation point (!) as the cover screams the obvious: "BLAH-BLAH SEEN FRENCH-KISSING SO-AND-SO!!!!!!". I can only assume they’re not supposed to be French-kissing each other when I’m dimly aware that someone has hesitantly stepped behind me in line.


In my peripheral vision, I can tell she’s young (probably early 20’s) and is holding two items: a box of tissues and a bag of water with a live fish swimming in it.

I am not making this up.

Being a native New Yorker, the fact that she was holding a live fish in a bag in the supermarket did not even register with me…I was only aware that she had a mere two items…to my almost-twenty. I glance back at yakky-cell-lady and then address the girl-with-the-live-fish-swimming-in-the-bag:

Me: “You’re welcome to go ahead of me, if you’d like….but I don’t think we’re going anywhere anytime soon.”

Her: “Thank you. I can’t believe there’s no express lane in this dump.” (She probably actually said “store”, but my befuddled brain had just zeroed in on the moving fish-in-the-bag, so I undoubtedly missed it.)

With this, we switched places…with her putting her box of tissues on the belt, while resolutely holding the fish-bag firmly in her free hand.

At that very moment, “Stephanie” (how do I know the angel’s name? It’s printed on my receipt, of course) walks over and offers to ring me up at the customer service desk, usually reserved for people buying cigs or looking for refunds for the juice with a “decidedly suspect smell”.

As I’m backing my cart out of the checkout lane, I’m exclaiming to fish-girl to “follow me!” and off we go. On my way out the door, I noticed with no small amount of satisfaction that yakky-cell-lady was still on line…in virtually the same spot I’d left her.

As I’m driving home, smugly thinking about what a great and wonderous thing karma is, I spill my coffee down the front of my blouse and onto my pants. I had no paper towels handy for cleanup, so I used about a dozen tissues…causing my black top to look like a salt shaker threw up on it.

So much for karma.

JH said...

OMG tooo funny! That's my standing comment, but it's true. Maybe you should compile these into a book with that as the title. That'd be super cute. I've unfortunately recently learned that moving your object in the manner of the elderly is actually called "tromboning" & actually (as opposed to magically) does make the eyes focus! If only they could see your shirt!!

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