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Check the ‘tude at the door, lady!

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I don’t know what it is with me and situations on Fridays. Two weeks ago it was the weirdo with hemorrhoids at the grocery store, last week it was the rude lady at the vet (that I’ve yet to blog about) and now today a Costco cashier yelled at me. Oh yes, full out yelled at me.

Costco, as per usual, was crazy busy. Full mostly of idiots with apparently oodles of spare time who just wander around aimlessly, often making dead stops in the open areas just to make it impossible to navigate around them while they figure out what day it is, where they are, and what happens if you mix all the primary colors together.

I’m on a mission for eggs, milk, mushrooms and protein shakes. I wanted it to be a quick trip, whatever that equates to in the Costco world.

Oh yah... that's me in front

I’m like a Nascar driver with my cart. I can see my finish line and I can taste the trophy. I take off –  zipping past the old ladies bickering about the price of Electrosol dishwasher tabs, I slide past the dufus scratching his butt in front of the big screen tvs, I zoom past the hoity-toity-nose-in-the-air woman staring at the modern style bathtub as if it were the Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre.

I get to the back of the store, trying to make the clearest path to the dairy and produce section. My route is to pass by the meats, skip along the produce, grab the mushrooms, head straight for the dairy, grab the milk, select the eggs and make a bee-line to the pharmacy section for the protein drinks. It was a no fail plan. Almost.

I get to the meats and enter the dreaded “deer in the headlights” shoppers. If this were a park, these people were the annoying ducks and geese that get in your way so you can’t walk through. I step this way, then that way, wishing as I always do that shopping carts had signal lights and horns. People would hear me coming then. I’d be announcing my arrival in the store like a wedding car convoy… beeep beep beep beeeep beeep beep beeeeeeep.

The produce section was no better. Abandoned carts were scattered everywhere, like their owners had to take cover during an airstrike or like this area was now a designated cart parking zone. But then, as I got closer to the lonely carts it’s like their owners suddenly appeared … apparitions in a haunted house, and every one of them in my way. Thankfully, the big package of mushrooms is an easy grab and I toss them in the cart, avoiding the dreaded “loop-twice-around” the refrigerated section.

The main laneway that now leads my way to the dairy was like an interstate highway. I can’t get a break to get into the lane. No one is letting me in. At last, a break, I don’t hesitate and slip in unnoticed, keeping full pace with those ahead of me.

I arrive at the milk and stick out my arm as if ready to pass the invisible baton to the next runner, and without even so much as slowing down I reach out and grab the Skim, before taking three more steps and scooping up a carton of eggs. I rest the eggs in the front of the cart and while still moving, I open it and am satisfied that none are cracked.

I pick up my pace, ready for the home stretch. Just protein drinks left and I can cross the finish line. Again, I pass by a deluge of hopeless shoppers, probably not even sure what they came for. I pass the little girl making a face at her mom, a man tossing a package of pre-shredded cheese into his cart at a distance, around the two old men debating on the oversized jar of pickled garlic.

My signature move... sans the dress of course.

At last, the protein drinks, and again, like a choreographed dance I grab the box, put in the cart, twirl around once or twice in a Ginger Rogers kind of way and push my cart to the checkouts.

Uh oh. Four registers open and a thousand customers waiting. Oh well. The main part of the race is over. I can handle this. I resort to a conversation with my bud, Danielle, on my blackberry.

So there I am happily “bbm”ing my friend, laughing at our conversation when a Costco lady approaches both me and the lady behind me and says, “Ladies, you can proceed to the next checkout. She’s going to be opening up.”  I thanked her, after all, I’m not gonna refuse a chance to get out quicker.

I steer my cart over to the very next lane that is clearly still marked “This checkout closed”. I no sooner pull up to the conveyor belt when the cashier who is stationed there looks up and shouts, “No! No! No! This is for the next person in line, not you!” I was shocked. Now everyone in the line I just left and the line two rows over is staring.

Offended, and embarrassed I speak up and say, “The woman over there TOLD me to come over here.” Just then the cashier’s checkout partner piped in and said, “Yes, she told them to come here, Cathy.” The loud mouth cashier says, “Oh, okay!” Too late… cuz now I’m mad. I plunk down my milk and say, “Yes, she did tell us to come here…thank you very much, Cathy!” If being “pissed” was music, I’d have a swing band right now. Cathy just catapulted herself to the top of my shit list. (Note that my “shit list” is not to be confused with my “I think you are weird” list, my “avoidance” list, my “hope you trip and fall list”, and most notably, my official “can’t stand you” list.)

I put my items down and step to where the cashier is. She looks at me and says abruptly, “Sorry about that, I didn’t know she told you.” I looked at her and said sternly but quietly so as not to cause an even bigger scene, “You know, that was very humiliating… to be hollered at like you just did.” She got offended, put her hands up like I was holding a gun and this was a hold up and says loudly, “Look, I apologized okay!” I took a second, ground my top teeth into my bottom ones and said matter-of-factly with a smug look on my face, “You did. You certainly did.” This lady was nuts.

A little fibre goes a long way.

At this point, there was a million things I wanted to say to her… like that maybe even though she was hollering there were still people on the outskirts of the commercial business park that didn’t quite hear her, or that maybe if she had more fibre in her diet she wouldn’t be so irritable. Then I had a vision of breaking each of my dozen and a half eggs on top of her head, or throwing my mushrooms one by one at her… one at her nose, one at her forehead, one at her mouth… how-do-ya-like-this.. and this… and this…

Pick a potato, any potato.

I resigned to the fact I was not going to get into a battle of whits with this nut. I imagined it would be like having an argument with a potato. I decided to take the high road.  She told me my total and I made a joke about my “over used” debit card, she smiled, she gave me my receipt, told me to have a good weekend in a sort of sincere kind of apologetic tone. I gently took my receipt, looked her in the eye and said, “You too, Cathy. You too.”  I’ll be honest, I didn’t mean it though.  I was still reeling from the public humiliation and I wished I had secret powers… and could rig it so that her car wouldn’t start tonight, or a bird would poop in her eyes when she left the store, or she’d get the trots from something she ate earlier.

It was nice of Cathy to try to redeem herself… but too little too late Miss Non-Congeniality. My advice to her… spin by the bran aisle before you leave work tonight.

***Please note that names have been changed to protect the ornery and fibre-deficient.

Just press on my eyes why don’t ya?

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Well, this week’s aggravation for me was when I went to the eye doctor for my appointment. I would never go except for the fact that I cannot get “new” contacts without having an up-to-date prescription. Obviously a rule they put in place just to irritate me.

The office was packed when I got there, and after checking in at the desk, I sat down. I looked around at the other patients. I must’ve booked my appointment on “geriatric” day because I was at least a hundred years younger than the others. One man looked like he passed away in  his chair when I first looked at him… chin resting on his chest, hands hanging loosley on either side of the chair, and at one point he was starting to list to one side. He was resurrected when his wife elbowed him in the ribs to look at something she saw in the paper.

The receptionist asks for my glasses so she can read their prescription. Before disappearing with my glasses she says to me, “If you are wearing your contacts, you’ll have to take them out.” Oh great, I thought. So I retrieve my little lens case and remove my contacts right there on the spot. Now I’m sitting there, pretty much blind. The people sitting next to me who were in perfect view seconds ago, are now replaced by completely hazy images. The old guy who looked dead is now just a blurry lump of red and white plaid. His wife is a pink blob with a fuzzy face. The man across from me in the yellow jacket now just looks like Pac Man.Unless someone addresses me by name or comes within two inches of the end of my nose – I’m not seeing them.

Tony the Tiger, not the Fed Ex guy

I waited and waited… watching fuzzy person come and go into the office. One fuzzy image comes in, kinda looks like Tony the Tiger of Frosted Flake fame at first, and after squinting like Mr. Magoo I realize he was just the red headed FedEx guy. He waved at me, I wave back and then when I squinted again I saw he wasn’t waving, he was merely shaking the arms of  his sunglasses open and putting them on. Great. I need my freakin’ glasses. If I don’t get called in to be seen in the next minute, the contacts are going back in my eyes.

Finally, a lady comes over… according to my vision either she had super big hair, or she was wearing a wide-brimmed sun hat. I couldn’t tell. She tells me the doctor is running late and so she’ll do a few tests with me in the meantime. She leads me to the little area and I take a seat in the stool she pulls out for me. Well, I assumed it was a stool, it looked like a cardboard box to me at this point, or it could have been a stack of old records for all I knew. I immediately recognized the machine that was sitting in front of me. It’s the one that blows that awful puff of air in your eye. I hate this thing. I hate it. She cleans off the chin rest and gets me to look straight ahead. At this point, I realize that the person who sat at this machine before me must’ve been Frankenstein because he must’ve had about 11 inches of space between his chin and where his eyes were because when I rested my chin in the spot, the eye holes were near the top of my head. Well either that, or I’m a human version of a Pug dog.

My face and this pug's face must have the same dimensions.

Anyway, she starts adjusting the machine, it groans and grinds it’s way down … pulling the end of my nose with it. I back my head up a touch.

“Don’t move your head!” She snaps at me. Strike ONE, I think.

“Well the machine is pulling the skin on my face down with it. I’ll wait until you have it at MY eye level if that’s okay.” She doesn’t say anything at that point. She adjusts it.

“You should be good now.” She says. She’s trying to be friendly and frankly, I’m not buying it.

I put my chin back on the rest, realize one eye is blocked off, and I see nothing but a fuzzy dot at the end of the tunnel with my other eye.

“Do you see the little farmhouse?” she asks nicely.

“No. I see a dot. If you say it’s a farmhouse, it’s a farmhouse I guess.” I say, not impressed.

“It’ll come and go into focus a few times. Just relax.”

“Uh-huh.” I say. Just relax… no such thing. I think the machine scraped some skin off my nose whilst getting into position a few minutes ago and I know it’s going to blow a gust of wind into my eye in a second. No, I can’t relax. YOU relax.

“The red light will flash three times and then you’ll feel a little puff of air.” she advises, and says it so perkily that you’d think she was giving away kittens instead of doing eye exams. It flashes once, twice, three times and PUFF. It startles me. I put my head back on the rest, waiting to do the other eye but see it’s still the same eye. The light flashes once, and PUFF. The witch tricked me. Strike TWO. Now I’m really mad. Picture a fat kid who just had his cake taken away, and you get an idea of how mad I am at this point. She opens up the other eye tunnel and closes the other one which pinched my eyelashes in the process. Strike THREE in my books. I see the dot, it comes and goes, one two three and PUFF, followed by one and PUFF. I’m super mad now. Having a puff of air in your eye is equivalent to having someone press their thumbs on your eyeballs.

She decides to give me my glasses back at this point. Yah, that’s right…let me have a good look at you. She pulls out a pair of funny glasses and asks me to put them on. This is eerily familiar to the dentist visit I had a few months ago. She pulls out a big card with several images and asks me to identify which dot in each set are 3D. I apparently get all of them right because when I finished she says, “Good job!” like a kindergarten teacher tells a kid who just finished a project without eating any of the glue. She pulls out a book with cardboard pages and asks me to idenify the numbers hidden in each circle. I rhyme them off without hesitation and only pause each time when I have to wait for her to fumble with the thick pages… “Seven”, “Fourteen”, “Twenty-nine”, “Thirty-six”, “Forty-three”, “Seventy”. She closes the book and says again “Good job!”. Yeah, yeah.. give my balloon and let me outta here.

She then tells me I can either go sit in the waiting area or I can browse their selection of eyeglasses. Yah. I’ll take a seat thank you very much… like I”m gonna buy my glasses here and have my wallet gang-raped by you schysters. Pfft. As if.

Finally, I get to see the eye doctor. “Doctor”… I’ll use that term loosely. He was very nice however. The next five minutes I was with him I spent calling out numbers as he switched the lenses on that stupid viewfinder…

“Which one is better, one or two?”

“Two”

“Which one is better, three or four?”

“Four”

“Which one is better, five or six?”

“Six”

This was only interrupted by the odd comment from me… “They look the same.” or “Can I see the first one again?” or “I don’t know.” Gosh this was boring. I wondered what a date with an eye doctor would be like… “Which value meal would you like honey, number one or two?” “What movie would you like to see sweetheart, the one in theatre four or five?”

He glides the viewfinder away from my head and gets me to rest my chin on the other contraption so he can shine a light in my eyes. Another pleasant aspect of this visit. He moves the light from side to side… and then says he’s gonna use the brighter light…. “brighter” was an understatement. It was like staring directly into the sun. He does the same for the other eye and moves the machine away. He flicks on the light and I sat there blinking constantly… trying to regain my vision. He speaks to me and when I look at him his face is transformed into numerous blinking spots. “Geez, all I see are spots” I said to him. “Oh yes. The light is bright isn’t it?” “Like a solar flare.” I tell him.

Stare at this for a while...

He tells me what my prescription is and I tell him it’s exactly the same as the one I got before from another doctor. Nice to know I went through all of this for the exact same prescription.

Oh well… small victories I guess. I was happy in the fact that I got my free contact samples and was on my way… good for another two years…. thank god!

A weirdo, some seafood salad, and sore butt veins…

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This has been one heck of a long week, mainly because I’ve been battling some sort of flu/cold bug and continued to go to work. That being said, after work today I found myself in the small grocery store just down the street from my work. They’re having an awesome sale on some of my favorite veggies. Yes, I love veggies.

I enter the store and immediately begin to miss my sister because this particular store is an exact duplicate of the one in the town where she lives and the last time I was in this chain of store was with her.

The store is crazy busy – to the point I wonder if the store is giving away free groceries today. The other shoppers seem like a sea of faceless people to me as I track down the green peppers, romaine lettuce hearts and tomatoes.

I round the end of the produce section and find myself at the bacon section, which is connected to the cheese section, connected to the dairy section, connected to the hip bone, just kidding. . .As I look for the greek yogurt that has become my newest fetish, a man – who bears a striking resemblance to a homeless Wilford Brimley – steps out of my way so I can get a better look at the shelf. I look him in the eye and give a courteous smile. He smiles back. I figured that would be the end of our engagement.

Not quite a hunka-hunka-burnin'-love...

I was wrong.

I stroll down the 15 foot long wall of yogurt but have no luck in finding the Oikos Strawberry treat for which I yearn. Out of the corner of my eye I see the man I smiled at looking in my direction. I ignore it, after all, I once gave someone a dirty look before for doing that only to realize I made a fool out of myself because the person was only reading a sign behind me.

I linger a few seconds before taking a few steps in his direction. I see that as I took a few steps, he took a few steps and stopped. I take one more, he does the same. I pause, he pauses. If this were a tv skit, he’d be my reflection in a non-existent mirror. He looks back at me and I pretend to be intrigued by the bin of frozen fish parts. He lingers. I walk towards where he is but stick to the fish bin. He waits until we are side by side before continuing with his cart as if we are now going to start shopping together. I veer to the immediate left, leaving him stranded as I head back down towards the produce. Now, I would have actually kept shopping but this guy was completely freaking me out so I was now concentrating on just leaving.

The lineups for the cashiers were super long but I found a lineup with only four people ahead of me. I scanned the other lines and to my sheer horror, I see the weirdo as he joins the lane about three lines over. As I spotted him, he spotted me and immediately turned his cart and made a direct route to get behind me. I pretended not to notice. I was now second in line. I stared straight ahead but noticed he pulled up practically beside me. Rather than stay behind his cart, he saunters around to the side, about 3 feet away from me, and leans on his cart with one arm like he’s Tom Selleck and the cart is his Ferrari.

Why couldn't the weirdo look like this?

If it were summer instead of winter right now, I’d suspect he’d have a bushel of chest hair poking through his Hawaiian shirt and a gold chain around his neck. Believe me, this guy was no Tom Selleck and he was about as smooth as a monkey’s arse. I start reading the large print on the CoffeeMate bottle of the lady in front of me. This weirdo is now inching his way closer to me. 2 feet away. I look down and start reading the ingredients in the bacon I’m holding. 1 foot away. Here it comes…

“Well, another weekend is here.” he said. And at this point, I felt sorry for him. Was this the best line he had? I turned slightly to acknowledge him, afterall, he may not be a Tom Selleck or a George Clooney, but he’s still human.

“Yes, another weekend is here.” I said, and returned to my bacon. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of reading contained on the label … like details on two ways to cook bacon as well as handling instructions, ingredients, nutrition facts, chef’s tips, a phone number, website and a variety of interesting logos and seals.

“Just getting off work?” He asked.

I turned slightly again, “Yepppppp.” I replied, looking at him and then glancing at his cart. He had various items in his cart but one item was glaring at me. It sat perched on top of what looked like a container of seafood salad. It was a bonus sized big yellow box of Preparation H. Grrrreat.

“Big plans for the weekend?” he asks, then adds, “You sure eat healthy.”

Obviously he was referring to the romaine hearts, 3 tomatoes, 4 green peppers, cucumber, raspberries, 2 plums, and forgetting the slab of bacon I was clutching onto. “Yepppp, gotta eat healthy.” I said. This was really awkward, and what made it worse was that the CoffeeMate lady now turned and looked at the weirdo.  She looked at him, looked at me, looked back at him, and then turned around while shaking her head. I think she felt my pain. She was probably thrilled that she wasn’t me. For the first time in my life I wished I was a turnip, or that my sister was with me because she would have told him to get lost by now.

The CoffeeMate lady’s turn was up and she handed the cashier the exact change and was on her way. Thank god it was my turn. The cashier started pushing each item through with expertise. I watched as my items one by one started their ride on the second conveyor belt. She sang out my total and I paid with debit. I start putting my first item in the bag when I’m shocked at what happened next.

Suddenly the weirdo hauls out his stack of reusable bags and starts packing his own stuff as soon as the cashier scans them. Oh god no. He’s gonna try to leave at the same time as me now. He’s getting so fast at putting the items in that he takes a box of crackers right out of the cashier’s hand and she barks at him, “I haven’t even scanned that yet!”

Now he and I are in some sort of bizarre race. He was firing his items into his bags with such haste that his hand movements were blurry to me, all while I was struggling to get my plastic bags open. This was just like those nightmares where someone is chasing you and you can’t get your key in the door fast enough to escape. My heart was pounding and I was starting to sweat. The next thing to do was cry.

To someone in an adjacent lane watching this whole scene unfold, it must’ve looked like we were contestants in some sort of strange supermarket bag-packing game show. I imagined that somewhere in Japan there was an actual competition taking place just like this, probably scheduled for right after the Rubik’s cube speed challenge.

My eyes darted to look at the items he had left, then the items I had left. He was catching up quickly. I had two items, he had a few more. I fumbled with the two cartons of raspberries – almost spilling the contents – and frankly I was so panicked about getting out of there I would have left every one of the berries behind, destined to get smooshed into the conveyor belt when it went around the roller at the end – an event that would cause me great heartache any other day. Berries or no berries, I was getting out of there. I picked up the bacon and it slipped out of my hand. I felt like my hands weren’t cooperating with the demands my brain was telling them. Was I suddenly losing muscle control now? I picked it up again but it wouldn’t lay properly in the bag. Damn bacon. My heart was pounding harder now, my mouth was dry. If it didn’t lay properly this next time, it was getting left behind or getting hurled across the store. He was down to only a couple of items. My bangs fell into my eyes. I shook my head in hopes they would migrate to the top of my head. No time to stop now for a hair adjustment. I grabbed the handles of the bags and watched as the cashier slid his last item across the scanner.

“Have a good weekend!” I practically hollered to the cashier and walked with such a hurried step that surely I must’ve looked like I was running to a washroom somewhere. I got to my car and just got in so quickly, I didn’t take time to put the bags on the other seat or even in the back. No sir, I got in the car and sat down with the bags on top of me between my torso and the steering wheel. I turned the ignition and throw the car into reverse, only to see a man directly behind me in his car waiting to turn. I was stuck. And I was parked in the very first spot in front of the store. That meant that everyone looking out could see me in my car. Which meant the weirdo could probably also see me and knew exactly where I went.

The guy in the car behind me pulls out and I can finally reverse. I do, and practically squeal the tires as I make my exit into the lane that leads to the street. I check my rearview mirror and see that he just emerged from the store, looking both directions and I wonder if he was looking for me or not. Hopefully, he’s not secretly a genius – a member of MENSA – and figured out a way to find me again.

The kind of guys that looked at my sister...

During my drive home, I reflect about the incident recalling the whole thing. Life is funny. All my younger years when I went places with my sister men would oogle at her, stare at her, smile at her, wink at her, try to stand next to her and honestly, she could stop traffic. I used to wonder what that would be like. Suddenly I had a taste of it, except while she got longing gazes from real heart throbs, I got looks from brazen old guys with hemorrhoids. Great.

... the kind of guy that looks at me. 'Nuff said.