About the time That Old Lady almost ran me over at the market

August 16, 2007 at 1:33 am | Posted in annoyances, best laid plans..., luck, mad mad world, old people, shopping | 1 Comment

Some people are just naturally lucky. I’m not talking about winning the lottery lucky, or discovering buried treasure while walking down a deserted beach with your metal detector lucky, or the weird supernatural luck of people who narrowly avoid being hit by lightning on a regular basis. That kind of luck is rare, and somewhat disturbing. I’m talking about people who have the good fortune to consistently make the right choices during their day to day routines.

I am not one of those people.

If I am driving on a highway, I will always get into the slowest lane. Other lanes can be whizzing by at 70 and my little lane will be just moseying right along at 35. When I dare attempt to move into another lane to get out of the slow crawl, that lane suddenly becomes the slow lane. Did the slow car a mile up suddenly exit and let everyone behind them return to normal speed? Did the slow car a mile up suddenly decide to get into my lane at the exact same time I did? IT IS MYSTERY.

Another place I have absolutely no luck in is the market. If I decide to bypass the traditional checkout lanes and rock out the self-check, the machine either: a) breaks; b) runs out of receipt paper; or c) refuses to scan my items no matter how gently I scan the barcodes. In either of those scenarios, it undoubtedly takes approximately 17 hours for a clerk to come over and help me, and when they do they give me a curmudgeonly snarl like I was responsible for the machine’s mechanical meltdown. Now, if I chose the regular checkout line, I will always be directly behind That Old Lady. That Old Lady is at every supermarket in the country, I’m sure you’ve seen her. That Old Lady is somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred years old, and yet she is shopping unassisted. Now,this is not a knock on the elderly. I love old people, I do! And not just my grandparents – most people with wrinkles and sweaters and cookies and lots of stories are alright by me. But, I know that there comes a certain point in everyone’s life where they need some help with some activities. Shopping is one of them. By the time I fight my way down the aisles and search the shelves for the exact item I need and push my ever growing cart from here to oblivion only to stand in line waiting I feel exhausted, and I’m only 25.

That Old Lady lets all her groceries reach the end of the checkout counter without bagging a single one, even though we’re in the self bagging lane. The clerk takes pity and stops ringing in order to bag her items, and load them into her cart. An item scans, and That Old Lady thinks that she was charged the wrong price. She is positive that the item was on sale. So the clerk stops ringing again, and pages someone for assistance. Five minutes later a 15-year-old stockboy arrives, That Old Lady pleads her case, and Stockboy is off to the aisles to see if it’s on sale. He comes back in a few minutes, announces that it is definitely not on sale, and so That Old Lady decides she doesn’t want it, or the five others just like it that have been previously rung up without her noticing. The clerk goes back and voids all the items, which needs a manager’s approval. Of course the manager has to be paged and who knows when we can expect her. In the meantime, I’m trying to plan an escape route, but there just isn’t one. There are already four other people with carts queueing up behind me, and 75% of my cart has already been unloaded onto the conveyor belt. I contemplate crawling into my cart to take a quick nap while we wait for the manager, but there is a big bottle of laundry detergent and a 24 can pack of Diet Pepsi thwarting my plan. Oh well.

When the manager finally arrives, the transaction is voided, and we are now sooooo cloooooose to finishing up with That Old Lady and moving on to me. When everything is rung up and bagged, That Old Lady presents her fistful of coupons which – miraculously – are deducted without incident. Although my ice cream is now starting to melt I am given a renewed sense of vigor and a smattering of hope that I will make it home before my chicken defrosts. When That Old Lady reaches into her handbag, she cannot seem to find her wallet. It has disappeared somewhere in the 45 square feet of pleather she is carrying on her shoulder. Searching in vain, she starts pulling things out of her purse to get a better view. Out comes an eyeglass case, out comes a hairbrush, out comes a Cuban refugee, out comes – A WALLET! We all breathe a sigh of relief. “Oh,” That Old Lady says, “that’s the wrong wallet.”

I now have to pee really, really, bad. I consider pretending to run my foot over my my cart, hoping that my fake injury will let me slip out of line and leave my shit at the checkout. I can come back tomorrow. Just then, That Old Lady finds her wallet. The right one. She pulls out a card and hands it to the cashier. The cashier points to the self swipe box and tells her to run the card through and follow the instructions on the screen. She may as well have been told to build, launch, and fly a space shuttle. After a few exasperating minutes of the clerk and I trying to help her get her card run through, we discover that it is an ATM card. As in ATM. Only. Back to the drawing board. That Old Woman digs through Monster Purse once again, searching for money to pay for her order. She hands her the wrong amount, TWICE, before realizing she doesn’t have enough and uses her credit card instead. The card goes through. That Old lady signs the slip. WE HAVE COMPLETION! Someone behind me claps, loudly. Although I had been contemplating suicide just moments before as my only alternative, I can’t be mad at the old bird. She tried, and that’s all we can do in life.

I was done fairly quickly, and wheeled my cart out of the store in the direction of my car. I stopped, looked both ways twice, and then proceeded into the crosswalk. Who should come speeding around the corner in her rusty blue 1983 Datsun? Why, That Old Lady, naturally! She blew the stop sign, completely ignored the brightly colored Yield To Pedestrians signs, and came within inches of making me roadkill. I was about to yell my standard “Watch where you’re driving, numbnuts!” when I realized who was behind the wheel. I bit my tongue. See, I believe in karma, and I know I’ll be old one day. I’m sure she didn’t intend to nearly impale me with her hood ornament. Accidents happen, and I am willing to give all oldies the benefit of the doubt. Still, next time I see her at the market, she is someone else’s problem. I’ll come back later.


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  1. I think my friend Kourtney could really give you a run for your money in the whole “picks worst check-out lines EVER” dept. Honestly, I quit going to the store with her after awhile because it automatically meant like 20 more minutes checking out. Way to show restraint with the Speed Demon. Nice.

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