Being the 4th in a miscellany of short posts to mark the 12 days of Christmas.
My line, which had looked so promising — only one person ahead of me, with a light load of groceries — has come to a standstill. Cat crunchies of some sort — likely a Christmas treat for someone named Fifi — seem to be the problem. The scanner doesn’t bring up a price; the shelf-check shows no posted price; and Grocery Department staff are not calling in, despite two loud loudspeaker requests to do exactly that. And so we stand there, waiting for exactly what, we’re not sure. A miracle, I guess.
Had my cart not been entirely unloaded by the time Fifi’s problematic treats surfaced, I would have cut my losses and moved on down the checkout-stand line. The guy behind me has already given up. As Ross Perot says, Who’s smart? Who’s dumb? Now, out of common decency, I’m trying to save the woman who has just arrived. As this member of my cohort stands there with her armful of items, I say mildly, We’re waiting for a price check. But in context, the communication is clear: It’s too late for me, but you can still save yourself! Run away!
Against all expectation, though, she doesn’t bolt. A quick, appraising glance at the situation and she puts her items down on the smidgen of space left behind my stuck-in-traffic collection and says, I’m feeling good about this. I’ll stay.
As the kids would tweet, OMG. Is she, like, crazy? Or is she temporarily overcome by tryptophan wafting from the stacks of boxed chocolates, or from the turkey roasting in the deli? Yet as we chit chat about this and that, waiting for that miracle, she seems as normal as I like to think I do: friendly but not creepily so; conversational but not non-stop talkative; witty but with no ‘edge’.
Grocery store staff having no solutions to offer and the heavens having failed to open, Fifi’s owner/assistant finally capitulates, exchanging her original selection for something with a price. And just like that, we’re moving again.
In a few minutes I’m gathering up my bags and purse and gloves and saying goodbye to my new, albeit short-duration, friend. Thanks for being my Line Buddy, she says. I like it: it’s a new phrase for me, but apt enough that there’s no need for a double-take. She goes on: This time of year you have to wait everywhere — having a Line Buddy brings my blood pressure down. I even talk to young people: it’s fun.
I walk out of the store, smiling. Talk about your miracle.