Overthinking the checkout chit-chatJanuary 15, 2017
The scene: I am buying groceries from Ryan [not the clerk’s actual name] at Albertsons [not the store’s actual name].
Ryan: Blackberries, eh?
Me [aloud]: Yup.
Ryan [struggling to scan the package]: This UPC code is way too small. I’d like to strangle whoever thought this was a good idea.
Me [internally]: I know you’re kidding, but jeez! Even facetious talk of violence makes me kind of queasy these days. Are you aware that a lot of marginalized people feel as though they’re walking around with bull’s-eyes on their backs? On the other hand, you didn’t say that you would actually strangle somebody, just that you felt like doing so. Maybe it’s healthy for you to acknowledge your frustration without intending to act upon it?
Ryan: I could commit murder, but do it with style.
Me [internally]: What? Can we please talk about something else? Or about nothing? Somehow I must register disapproval, however mildly…
Me [aloud]: You know, Ryan, I don’t think that’s possible.
Ryan: That’s true. I’m not British.
Me [aloud]: [polite chuckle]
Ryan: The French could never pull it off. They’d have to make it into a big drama.
Me [internally]: Oh, great, more stereotypes. Yes, let’s pick on the French. Or maybe you’re COMPLIMENTING the French on their inability to kill casually — they know that life is precious — and slamming the British for making murder look cool? What is your heritage, anyway? Is it OK to make fun of one’s own tribe?
Me [aloud]: Did you already scan my card? I can’t remember.
Me [internally]: All this talk of homicide has been slightly distracting, you see…
Ryan: I can’t remember either. I’ll scan it again just in case. Don’t worry, I’ll be normal once I get my second cup of coffee. Have a great day!
Me [aloud]: You too!
Me [internally]: Try not to strangle anyone.
Here’s where it all began.