Let me preface this blog post by saying that I’m not a line-cutter.
I’ll say it again! I’m not a… oh, screw it.
I was at Home Depot buying some lumber, right? It was lovely lumber. Pre-primed, so nice and smooth and white and ready to be painted. All of its pine knots were obscured! How nice. I just grabbed those eight-foot boards off the rack and couldn’t wait to get them home.
The area where contractors can buy stuff was already shut down for the night, what with the store being about to close in half an hour. Since I’d been unable to find a single large orange dolly to put my lumber onto, I dragged the five boards in my arms up the central aisle toward the open checkouts, dodging shoppers with wanton abandon.
I passed the U-Scans, thinking that I didn’t want to scan five huge boards. That was my first mistake. They have a handheld device, so you don’t have to scan your items grocery-style. Stupid Meg! Should’ve done that.
Past the U-Scans, only aisle 3 was open. A man was at the cashier’s station, going through the process. Behind him–and by “behind him” I mean fifteen feet away and well into the adjoining aisle–there was another man with a huge dolly filled with ginormous boards and drywall out the wazoo. So yes, there was a distance of fifteen feet between the two men, and also, the distance between the checkout area and the front of the man’s huge cart was about eight feet.
Was he in the line? Was he standing there waiting for someone? (Contractors do this all the time. They’ll just stop somewhere in the store, and get on their phones. “How much cement do we need, boss?” As an ardent woodworker, I’ve seen it all the time.)
Uncertain, I looked at him for three to five solid seconds, and I nodded toward the line. My look clearly asked him, um, are you in the line? He could’ve said, “I’m in the line.” He could’ve inched his cart forward to indicate that he was in the line. He could’ve pointed behind himself. Instead, he just stared back at me. Okay.
This forced me into a dilemma. Being paranoid. I HATE HATE HATE having to initiate a conversation with a stranger. I can do it (barely), but it leaves me drained and polluted for the duration. More often than not, I’ll choose not to, and to hell with the consequences. So, deciding he wasn’t in the line, I slipped past him and stood behind the man who was currently buying his items.
Things were okay for a minute. I felt good, life was on track, the warm sun was smiling upon me.
And then the unfortunate opera singing began. I think this guy must be one of those baritone contractors. “HELLOOOOO? HELLOOOOO? HELLOOOOO? HELLOOOOO?”
I remained facing forward. I’d given him a chance to engage with me, and he’d deigned not to take it. He wasn’t going to get to engage with me now, so help me God.
Both the man ahead of me in line and the cashier, a young woman, turned and looked at him. I don’t know what sort of [bleep] he was doing behind me (other than singing), but I’m sure it was entertaining. Was he flipping me off? Recording me on his cellphone? Mooning me? No clue. (Dare I peek?) The cashier paled and tried to check out the man ahead of me faster. I stood there, stoically resigned to my fate.
The singsonging continued. “HELLOOOO? HELLOOOOO?”
I briefly contemplated taking my boards and running to who-knows-where. But then I thought, you know what? I’m not going anywhere. That man could’ve done so many different things to indicate that he was in line.
He could’ve closed the gap between the front of his cart and the line. The front of his cart was all the way into the nearest perpendicular aisle. There were only a few people in the store. If he could’ve moved forward six feet, there would’ve been a two-foot passing area, and he still would’ve been nine feet away from the man ahead of him, due to his huge cart. I think, quite honestly, he wanted to have it all: the next spot in line, the luxury to dally fifteen feet away from said line, and the passionate ability to sing opera. Hear, hear!
I bought my boards and got the hell out of there.
Two or three times on the drive home, I spontaneously burst into laughter. That was helpful, because it can be stressful to drive a car when there are boards poking out the passenger-side window.
I don’t think this surpasses the time I stole the candy, but… all in all, it’s been a funny year to be Meg. Damn, I’m bad.