Sunday, January 25

The Continuing Struggle To Reconcile The Recent Defeat Of The Republican Party With The Blinding Stupidity Of Apparently Eligible Voters

I'M at Target. If you must know, I was buying a wire-mesh wastebasket. Okay, since you're now saying "Wastebasket? I thought the Riley household didn't waste anything", it was to house my collection of juggling balls, beanbags, clubs, and cigar boxes formerly located on a chair in my office, plus somewhere to the south, east, west, and north somewhat. Anyway, I have one item. I'm heading for the checkout. I am ready, I think, for anything.

My new Target is now a few months old, meaning that even if the economy weren't in the crapper they'd be cutting back on cashiers by now. So there's a little back-up, but I manage to find a line that's wrapping up one customer with only one ahead of me. And yes, I should have known this was an ill-omen, thanks.

Now, the woman in front of me is older than I, maybe approaching elderly, but she also looks like one of the professional elderly, like she smelled something unpleasant in 1962 and her face stuck like that. Plus her dress code is strictly First Thanksgiving.

So the first thing that happens is that while her purchases are being rung up an equal-sized pile is remaining behind on the conveyor belt, and in front of the pile is what appears to be a Target gift-card. I immediately figure I've managed to get behind a phantom shopper. You know the sort? There's one person in line ahead of you, but she accounts for three or four separate transactions, because not only can none of her friends venture out in pursuit of their own sundries, none of them can do math or make change. Which does tend to call into question all the Chicken Little reports about modern public education.

But hey, okay, there are shut-ins and such; I'm a charitable fellow. But it seems to me that if you need someone else to do your shopping you could just kick in the change for travel expenses, plus maybe I'd like to get the medicine home before Baby's croup gets any worse. But, okay. Ready for anything. I'm now a couple feet back from the transaction, because her stuff is still spread across the entire length of the conveyor, and the cashier gives her the first total, and she says--do not get ahead of me--but the shelf said it was on sale for $40, not $70.

And the cashier explains that the item rings up for full price, but then she gets the discount.

Now, I'm not sure it precisely was a gift card, but whatever it was the clerk instructed her to swipe it through the credit card deal, and this was a foreign concept to her. You have my complete sympathy, lady. But it's enough of a mystery that the two of them manage to complete a register pas de deux that locks everything up for forty-five seconds. Then there's a couple more swipes, one by each, before it takes, and the Grant Wood painting come to life is just sort of standing there, frozen, and the clerk hands her the stylus and says, you have to sign.

At this point I am thanking god I didn't go with the cast-iron wastebasket.

Now she looks down at the little screen, and suddenly she's got the eyes of a twenty-year old. "But this says I agree to pay this amount. I don't agree. It's supposed to be forty dollars, not seventy!"

So the cashier explains, yes, well, we have to do this in this order; your final price will be $40, which will be taken off at the end of the transaction.

"But I don't agree to pay $70."

"You're not paying $70. It will..."

"But it says I agree."

"Just a moment, m'am."

"It says 'I agree'. I don't agree."

I will give the clerk credit; when she hit the button to light up the flashing beacon for "Manager needed" it was without any sign of rancor. Professionalism is professionalism.

I was simultaneously selecting which of the remaining three lines I wanted to be third in, unfortunately failing to adjust for the breeze from the guy behind me shoving into it first. That one moved along as expected, about a quarter off Indifferent. I'd made it to next up when back behind me the second manager arrived to reinforce the first, who was looking like a man who'd just realized he left his pills in a different jacket.


FiniFinito said...

Sweet baby Jeebus I would have had a coniption nothing short of the one had by Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford when she went apeshit about the wire hangars. Your patience is legendary OReilly, next time bring a weapon to deal with the morass.

Kia said...

I have parked my purchase on a shelf and simply walked out of big box stores without number, on reaching the register and finding little dramas like this playing out. "Today is the first day of the rest of my life," I tell myself. You are a patient man.

Was there a screaming toddler? I think management deploys one when word gets out that I've arrived.

Kathy said...

Once, in Target, I was standing in lane behind a friend. Her transaction was poking along, so I said loudly "WILL you get a move-on, woman?" The expressions of the clerk and fellow shoppers were a splendid reward, till my friend laughed and said she was going as fast as she could. ah, good times, good times.

rotten mcdonald said...

I stay away from Target as much as possible. I know I am several hundred miles away from the danger zone, but the possibility of encountering Lileks fills me with fear.

But that was Olympic-level curmudgeonry. well done

D. Sidhe said...

Am I the only one who carries a book everywhere? Though if my partner's along, we like to engage in discussions of progressive politics, with special attention to Shit The Media Have Lied To You About This Week.

heydave said...

You people!
Zen and/or meds and get over it!

Grace Nearing said...

I can't remember why I was so motivated, but I once actually paid the person in front of me to just quit bitching. It was a dispute over 37 cents or something, and I handed the woman a dollar bill and said something like, Will this make it all better? She took it without shame and moved on.

Kia said...

D. Sidhe,

No you are not. I almost never leave the house without one, but I am frequently fooled (I can only blame myself) into thinking I'm going to get in and out of Target quickly. Ross Dress for Less is quite another story. I'd never go in there without a book. And never go in there on a Sunday, even with a book, unless you want to stand in line all day reading and have no other plans. Sometimes there are dogs to walk, dinner to cook, planes to catch. And while reading helps me get through the line it doesn't get me to whatever is the next thing -- the life drawing studio maybe, which I won't sacrifice to Target even if I've got Anthony Trollope for entertainment in the queue.

Narya said...

Kia, I think I'm a little in love with you for that Trollope mention.

heydave said...

On perhaps related matters, I had a strange dream last night: one could purchase a purple colored ashtray, made of Bakelite which was apparently important, I'm not sure why, via the Cafe Press/doghouse thing.

Aside from the fact that many of you Kind Readers probably don't smoke, I think carrying such items in line (they have to be purple, Bakelite) would prove an interesting motivator, no?

heydave said...

Oh, and the ashtrays would have embossed on them a photo from the left side over there. My dream told me I need the Sumo wrestlers.

On the purple Bakelite ashtray.

Sue said...

This Column, Part II: Eating Out With a Bunch of Senior Ladies. My last lunch with them had two of them working for 20 minutes to figure out exactly what everyone owed, because (horrors!) separate checks were not available for the six of us. I put in an extra large tip (the poor waitress had earned it and then some) and had to defend it to the ladies when I got caught. I don't care if I die alone, it looks like I'll have to give up my friends if they all turn out like this.

Joyful Alternative said...

For months, I enjoyed long lines as long as supermarket tabloids were available. I'd read the latest in the George-and-Laura soap opera real loud to my partner. "She left him, dear, and is now living at a hotel. She says she won't come back until he stops drinking. Isn't that terrible, dear?"

There'd be dozens of people within earshot (I'd be loud) every time, and I may have delivered Pennsylvania to Obama all by myself (and my embarrassed spouse).