I have no other explanation for the story I’m about to convey other than it is the one I am offering. The lead character in this story has to have a perfect life for this episode to exist. But don’t let me judge for you, check it out for yourself and let me know.
As you may have noticed, I often have trouble in grocery stores. It could be my dyslexia kicking in and mistaking tapioca for tacos; it could be someone crashing their cart into me – twice; it could be a mouth-breathing cashier who can’t find the UPC to scan. Whatever it is, I’m not a big fan of grocery stores.
That being a universal truth, I work very hard to get my ass out of them as soon as possible. But sometimes something forces me to linger. Loiter around the lettuce, dally near the donuts, malinger with milk, whatever it is, sometimes I find myself stock-still.
This time it was a woman berating the clerk at the seafood counter. I could tell by his blinking and wavering he was unprepared for whatever onslaught was being foisted upon him. I wandered closer because if it was something to put a seasoned counterman on the ropes I had to hear what it was.
“I cannot believe how far the quality of this store has fallen.”
I watch her shake her bony fingers at the guy. I figure an outburst of this level must be due to some fish she purchased that poisoned her family and, before the mass funeral, wanted to vent.
“Why can’t a customer get satisfaction?”
Yeah! You big, impersonal corporation with your tainted fish!
“I want, as I’ve said before, a four pound bag of shrimp!”
You tell ’em. lady! Don’t let this big, impers. . .huh?
“Four. Pounds. Of. Shrimp! Do I make myself clear?”
I listen to the guy explain that she is indeed making herself clear, many times over now, but, the facts are, they don’t carry four pound bags of shrimp. But they do, he points out, have many two pound bags of shrimp. As a matter of fact, the case she’s leaning on and palm pounding is brimming with bags filled to two pounds each with shrimp.
Now I ain’t no math genius type-a guy, but even I can do some simple ciphering.
The guy looks past her and catches my eye. I shake my head and raise my eyes in a look only customer services representatives fully understand. While exchanging this look the lady continues sniping and slapping her palms on the aforementioned bucket o’ shrimp bags, at two pound increments.
As I wander away I can only think that this woman’s life must be perfect. How can it not be? If the failure of the manufacturing and/or shrimp industries to package their product in increments she desires can make her lose her nut then the rest of her life much exist on candy flavored clouds with milk shake lakes.
It then dawned on me that, with as much complaining about mundane events I witness in a day, I must be the only person in the world whose life is not perfect. What other reason could there be? I mean, sure, if I wanted four pounds of shrimp I might be pissed while I pulled out my calculator to see how many two pound bags I’d need but I sure wouldn’t go bat-shit crazy over it. And I sure as hell wouldn’t drag someone who’s life may not be as perfect (if the blood on his smock and faint scent of scrod is any indication) as mine into my displeasure.
As I’m leaving the store I looked back and the woman is still at the counter, still in front of the basket of shrimp, still berating the still shell-shocked counterguy. I finally understand why customers are universally agitated at the slipshod service they receive. We are the only imperfections in their otherwise glorious lives.