Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking for Orange Juice-- Not Comedy

Every so often at my house, we have breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs, toast, hash browns—you get the idea. (And no, on those days we don’t have dinner for breakfast.) A couple of nights ago was one of our breakfast nights and as soon as the yolks hit the frying pan it occurred to us that we had no orange juice.  In order to avert this potential tragedy, I ran screaming from the house into my car and headed to the nearest convenience store. (The screaming wasn’t so much about the orange juice, as it was about the stubbing of a toe on the way out the door.)

The closest place to us that sells orange juice is a CVS located about a quarter of a mile from our home. So that’s where I headed with all due haste, since the eggs were frying and there was no time to waste.* I got a spot right in front of the store and trotted in. I quickly grabbed a bottle of Tropicana and headed to the checkout area, happy to see that there were no other customers around. “Great,” I thought, “I’ll be in and out of the store quickly.”

As I approached the counter, orange juice in hand, the cashier—an older, rumpled looking gentleman—said, “Are you old enough to buy that?”

“Uh, what?” I said, not quite sure I heard him correctly.

“I said, are you old enough to buy that orange juice? You better have some ID on you, son,” he said with a crooked smile.

Suddenly it dawned on me that he was attempting to engage in witty banter. I figured I’d give a quick rejoinder, grab my o.j. and get out of there.

“Oh no, don’t worry, it’s not for me. That stuff gives me the shakes.” Satisfied, sir? I played along with you there.

“Okay, because I don’t want to be responsible for what might happen to you if you drink too much of that.”

At this, I just smiled and nodded, thinking, “Ho, ho! You’re a crackup. Now ring me up, so I can be on my merry freaking way.”

But the man kept on going—making lame jokes about my CVS discount and telling me that he wanted me to come back later to give him one of the mimosas he was certain I would soon be making. So frazzled was I by his incessant attempt at amusing small talk that I ended up entering the wrong pin number into the machine, which only brought on a new barrage of sub-Carrot Top-level one-liners.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, but probably only amounted to three minutes, I managed to get out of there with my orange juice—even as the barbs kept on being hurled toward me while I was walking away.

My first thought as I left the store was, “Sheesh! Is it really too much to ask to get in and out of a convenience store quickly? That’s the whole point of calling it a CONVENIENCE store! Having to wait through a Vegas lounge act when I’m just trying to buy a bottle of juice isn’t what I’d call convenient.”

Then, as I pondered the situation some more it occurred to me that the cashier, standing at a register in an empty store on a Saturday night, was probably bored out of his mind. Joking around with me was probably just his way to break up the monotony. And maybe I was the one being the jerk by not engaging with him more.

When I got back home, our breakfast-dinner (a.k.a. “brinner”) was not quite ready yet, so it turned out that in the end, the clerk’s feeble jesting really cost me nothing at all.

“Hmmm. Maybe I should bring the guy a mimosa after all,” I thought. But then I realized I didn’t have any champagne, and the last thing I had any interest in doing was interacting with a liquor store clerk.

*Rhyming unintentional