Monday, January 08, 2007

When Grannies Attack II: This Time It's Personal.

Yesterday, I had to go to Wal-Mart to get two items for this morning’s breakfast: eggs and bread for French toast. That was it. Just eggs and bread. Having three kids, I am basically required to go to Wal-Mart virtually every day for milk, so I knew precisely where the eggs and the bread were. At most, I expected to spend no more than five minutes in the store. Run in, grab my loot, burn through the check out line, goose the greeter on my way out and then peel out of my parking spot while trying to hit the pimply kid corralling the carts who hit my car a couple of weeks ago. It could be done. In fact, I’ve done it three million and one times before.
Unfortunately, Sunday nights however are absolutely packed at Wal-Mart. In fact the lines at the speed lane at the side of the store were so long that I opted to hike all the way to the other side to see if they were any better. As luck would have it, the lines at the self-checkout were even longer, BUT, the lone speed lane on that side only had one person being waited on. Before anyone else caught on, I shuffled my way over there and took my place behind a woman that I would guess to be in her late forties and though she was in one of those complimentary electric shopping carts for the infirm, I was unable to discern anything physically wrong with her. Inside of thirty seconds however, I was able to determine that she was psychologically fucked. And now, having committed to take my place in line right behind her, so was I.
Murphy’s Law of shopping states that the more of a hurry you are in, the more mathematically challenged, financially desperate and socially retarded the people in front of you in the check-out line will be. I was in a pretty big hurry. If I didn’t get out of there soon so that I could eat dinner and help the kids finish homework, I was going to miss The Simpsons. As expected, the lady in front of me was trying to mentally add (out loud) every item rung up so that the clerk had to move at the speed of a retarded garden snail debilitated by an industrial accident, barter every canned good as if she were grocery shopping in an Egyptian bazaar and speak with about the same amount of courtesy as a Department of Motor Vehicles beurocrat on a bad acid trip. As the long lines at the self-checkout next to me started moving with almost German efficiency, I began to feel my blood boil.
The breaking point came as the clerk rang up the last item. The green price tag on the can of vegetables was a little crumpled so the lady thought the price was $0.69 instead of its actual $0.89. This set off a wave of indignation in the lady, who threatened to refuse to pay for the can out of principle. The clerk and the customer than went head-to-head over the can of vegetables while me and the several other people who had by then jumped into this line began rolling our eyes at each other.
Finally, the witch relented. She pulled out her purse while lecturing the clerk on false advertising then debated the total price before finally writing out the check. Heavily agitated, she threw her purse towards the cart in front of her buggy but missed. Instead she hit the handlebars, or rather, the controls on the handlebars that power the cart she was riding.
Now, I had seen her throw her purse down but immediately afterwards had ceased paying attention. I did not realize that she had accidentally thrown her cart into reverse and sent it rolling right for me. I was not clued into this until I was startled by the rear bumper guard striking me in the left foot.
Now, I had had a run-in with one of these contraptions before, so I knew how dangerous they could be. Luckily, I was not hurt. Un-luckily, I was startled and as anyone with the smallest iota of common sense can tell you, it is not a good idea to startle someone who is much taller than you are. Especially if he is holding onto a dozen eggs.
All it took was an involuntary squeeze. The lid of the carton sprung open and a single egg was launched just high enough to clear the edge of the packaging. Trying to save it, I violently lurched my arm with the carton forward to catch it. I did save that particular egg but in the process, launched four others much, much higher than the original.
One egg glanced off of the woman’s arm and fell harmlessly, but messily, to the floor. That was the only one that missed. One broke off of her other shoulder, one hit her in the nape of her neck, spilling yolk down the back of her shirt while the last disappeared somewhere down in front of her. I did not see it hit, but I heard it break somewhere out of sight.
At that point, everything went still. However much I had fantacized about egging an ornery shopper in what was essentially a wheelchair, never in my life would I have ever mustered up the gumption to actually do it while stone sober. All I could do was stare at her in horror while she slowly turned her head around to see who had just turned her into an invalid omoulette. Expecting her to start screaming for security, I was preparing to flee when she looked up at me and meekly said, “I am so sorry.”
Flush with relief, I apologized profusely back at her while everyone else in line stifled spasms of laughter. I even offered to help her clean up, but she waved me off and said she had something in her purse to wipe it up with. As she spoke to me, she stuck her hand inside and found what was left of the fourth egg. The contents of her bag had taken a direct hit. That pushed me right to the edge, but I did not bust up myself until I got back into the car (with a fresh dozen eggs). It was there, while trying not to laugh so hard I had a heart attack, that I realized the spiritual significance of this event. I had a religious experience.
I do not go to church very often. In fact, I avoid it by all means possible. Still, it has become blatantly obvious that not only is there a God, he loves the hell out of me and enjoys my sense of humor. How else would I not only have gotten away with egging an ornory invalid in a crowded grocery store, but got my victim to apologize to me after I had finished?
I am now thinking about starting a cult.

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