That was the opening to my parting shot the other day at the Brodega across the street from my place.
It’s pretty strong Portland passive/aggressive game on my part, too, if I do say so myself. It sounds like conversational curiosity, but really, it’s an indictment.
What you have to understand is that here in the Pearl, space is at a premium. Both of my neighborhood markets – Brodega and the RiteAid – have shopping aisles that basically end abruptly at the checkouts.
While the RiteAid is happy to let that devolve into a Thunderdome type situation, Brodega has gone to the trouble of painting a sign on the floor indicating where the line begins.
You’d think that would help.
Please allow me to introduce Americans to you.
I picked out my whatever I needed desperately enough to pay Brodega prices for and hopped into line behind a little old man who – I swear – actually shrank while I was watching. Anyway, the cashier calls him up and I move to the front of the line. A couple moments later, a sweet little old lady walks into the checkout line and stands next to the man – obviously, this is her husband and I’m stuck in a sweet lament of my aging singleness.
Thank gawd there was a Stupid American to pull me out of that moment.
From around the aisle to my left a woman yells, “Excuse me, ma’am…there’s a line!” just as she steps in front of me. Her boyfriend/husband-person sees me and makes a face saying he’s sorry for inadvertently cutting. Then he tries to get the woman’s attention, but she’s still yelling at the sweet old lady.
The cashier finally stops her by saying, “This is her husband…they’re together“, rather tersely. I can actually see the woman in front of me bristle.
Nonetheless, I mention that she has a point, there is a line. Then I look down at my feet, literally on it.
“We were in line around the corner”, she says dismissively over her shoulder. She doesn’t even take her eyes off the old couple as she says this. Her man-friend looks like he’d like very much to possess the power of invisibility as he makes apology faces at me and tries to urge her into line.
“It’s fine. You can go ahead of us if it’s that big a deal”, she huffs at me. She still has not even made eye contact, so you know just how sincere her non-apology is. She’s the type of person that if they were male, you’d refer to as a dick.
Then I delivered my indictment.
The man showed me the whites all the way around his eyes, which made me chuckle. Then he shook his head in the negative. I think he was warning me about triggering the woman, but I chose to interpret it as answering my question.
Helpfully, the woman said “No, we’re visiting, why?”
“Well, because you didn’t know where the line began”, I said as she moved up to the cashier. I was thinking, “Portland natives would never yell at someone like that” but my better demons kept me from voicing it.
Ok, my better demons and the man’s frightened eyes.
The irony is that another cashier arrived and called me up moments after the interloper took her righteous – er, rightful place at the checkout.
We finished at the same time and as I held the door for them, they veered away from the door and bellied up to the small bar in the front corner of the market.
The whole time, they were just on a snack run. If I were the guy, I don’t think I’d have gone out of my way to leave my barstool to shop with this woman when I could have stayed behind peacefully sipping my adult beverage.
Of course, I get home and read a fellow bloggers experience with the Christmas Spirit and am left feeling jealous that she got a saint and I got a grinch. But the season isn’t over yet!