What IS It About Me and Grocery Stores?

I've written before about my bad luck with grocery stores. Here's another one. (If you can only click on one, I think the last one is the funniest.)

So, we've been entertaining some of my husband's colleagues from work and we had people coming to watch the Open final last night and I had to run to the grocery store before everyone got to our house. Ana and I picked up Jane from school and headed directly there. Shortly after we get there, I notice this guy who looks like some sort of homeless person, wandering around the store, doing his shopping and talking non-stop. He tries to chat the girls up, which might have completely freaked me out but I'd already decided he was ON something and not really a pedophile. (I mean, he might have BEEN a pedophile but he was so inebriated that I was pretty sure I could take him in a fist fight.)

He, naturally, gets in line right in back of me.

Of COURSE he does.

I have a full cart of groceries and he starts asking other people as they pass by, all drunkenly amused at my expense, "Is there a SHORT CUT through this line?" like he's being so incredibly inconvenienced by how long we're taking.

Naturally, it is almost impossible to get someone to bag my groceries. So I swipe my debit card, ask for $40 in cash back and since the cashier kid is still ringing up groceries, I go to help sack stuff and try to fit all the sacks back into the cart. (Why is it that you know you just took all of those groceries OUT of the cart but you can never put them all back IN the cart once they're in bags?)

I look up to see that the cashier has just handed my receipt and money to the Drunk/Meth/Crazy guy.

I say, "Excuse me, that's my money and receipt."

The kid behind the counter says, "...wha?"

I point to the Drunk/Crazy/Meth head (?) guy and say, slowly so everyone really gets this part, "WE. Are. NOT. Together."

The D/C/M Guy finished my transaction at the keypad so the cashier thought he must actually be WITH me.

I wait there while the drunk guy accuses me of ringing up everything on HIS card. Then the cashier says, "I think then some of his stuff is in your bag."

I say, no, I had placed a divider after my groceries. His groceries are still clearly sitting on the belt behind the divider.

There is a lot of questioning the drunk guy as to whether his stuff is still on the belt.

We can all agree that it is.

He's still holding my money.

The manager comes over and the cashier, who I think really thought *I* was the problem for a little while, explains what he thinks is going on.

We all agree that the Drunk/Meth/Crazy guy's groceries are still sitting on the belt.

I am running low on patience and my poor girls are standing there, silent and with big eyes. So, finally, I reach over and I take my money from the drunk guy's hand and then I reach over again and I take my receipt.

Because it's MY reciept and it goes with MY money. And I am not leaving without both of those things.

I am calm and steely and contemptuous.

The manager apologizes to me for the incident, but sort of under his breath because clearly, we are all afraid of setting the Drunk/Crazy/Meth guy off.

I, the Queen of Understatement, say, "Yes, there seems to be something of a substance abuse issue at work."

The Drunk/Crazy/Meth guy says, "Well, you could at least throw me a twenty after I waited all this time."

I look at him and my voice goes into that, "I'm about to pull freaking parts of your freaking anatomy out through your freaking nose" LOW register that always surprises me because, well, who knew I even had that? and I say, "I'm not really in the habit of giving my money away." (Which, okay, wasn't that clever but the fumes were starting to get to me.) (Did I mention how bad this guy smelled?)

He was paying for his beer and paltry groceries with a credit card when we left.

And then we got in the car and I talked to the girls about how you don't have to get explosive but you can't let people just brazenly rob you. And that some people are just creepy and how this guy seemed to have some sort of addiction... So then they tell me that the guy kept trying to talk to them and I honestly felt a rage akin to... well, I don't know what. But Very Scary Rage.

I think, "Clearly, we have to move."

Which, oddly enough, makes me feel more at home here in New York since I felt that way about 90% of the time after going grocery shopping in Austin.

And then I cooked a good dinner and we had a great time with our guests and by the end of the evening, I was back to center. Which is good because now I have the perfect excuse to do ALL of my cooking at Delightful Dinners, where they do the shopping FOR me.


What you did was mild compared to what most New Yorkers would have done. Really.

But I would have insisted on different 20's. Because he touched them.
hokgardner said…
You must exude some sort of magnetic force. Because really, this kind of stuff happens to you wayyy too often for it to be random chance.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad I'm not the only one with bad grocery store karma. If I notice someone...then invariably they end up behind me.

I'm glad everything worked out okay, but sure sounds scary!
Miri said…
Barb, do you have a weirdo magnet hidden in your bag?

Oh, creepy! Cree-eepy.

Also, very funny blog material. At least you have that going for you!
Anonymous said…
Wow.... just... wow.
LaDonna said…
Well, I hope you told Ana that THIS was definitely a "blog worthy" event.

Good grief...yeah, I'd have freaked out on him completely. You maintained your self control beautifully.
DK said…
(Puts hand to forehead) I see.... schizophrenia. Off meds. On beer. Maybe a little pot, or maybe a little crack, but definitey not on antipsychotics.

In other words, one of my people.

Well, you know, not my personal people...
MadMad said…
Now THAT is a good story. See? That is the thing about blogging. You have a place to share these things. Otherwise, you're calling your husband, and he's all "I'm in a meeting (Also? I don't care.)" and then your dog (who's also I don't care) and then you end up on meth yourself because there's no one to tell this really great stuff to.

Or is that just me?
Unknown said…
My wordless week is officially over, I've killed umpteen fairies and I'm done...back to blogging, back to commenting :) Long live the blog fairies.
Ann in NJ said…
That was remarkable self-control. Both for keeping your cool AND for standing up for yourself. My mental dialog would have included "is is worth this for $40?"

I try so hard to be understanding to people who are developmentally challenged. But obviously altered? Just scary.
Always, Laura said…
I live outside a small community and everytime I go to the store I end up with the creeps behind me. Being that it is a small community they know my name, I know their names, they know my kids name. I dream of going to the store anonymously. Even if it included some drunk/crazy/high guy. I figure the only difference would be he wouldn't know me or better yet I wouldn't know him.
QueenBeeing said…
WOW! You were nothing short of perfection in that situation. I am so impressed by the strength and calmness you exhibited.

On another note, you are a great writer. I love the way you weave the story, and I couldn't stop reading!! You are truly talented. : )
Lynn said…
OMG!!! Ok NOT funny because it really happened to you, but SO funny since you survived it and came out unscathed.

Throw him a twnety for waiting so long?!!? What, he was FORCED to stand behind you? There were NO OTHER LANES open for him? No express lane? He was probably hoping that you would be so distracted that you would forget you asked for the $40.

People like that give New Yorkers a bad name. Shoot, people like that give HUMANITY a bad name!!!!