Friday, January 11, 2008

They're on to Me

*No Friday 55 or Da Count today. Just a bit of absurdity inspired by an overzealous cart checker.

There I was pushing an over-sized cart at the discount grocery warehouse that bears a name with a crude sexual reference. (It always made me wonder if they were intent on gratifying their customers or implying their own service just blows.) After minutes of agonizing thought I'd come up with a brilliant plan, a menu-derived shopping list that was sure to win raves from the hungry teenagers in my house. Today was the day I'd finally get my chance to bring it all to fruition and NOBODY was going to stop me. I grabbed a cart, threw my earth-friendly canvas shopping bags in the bottom, and looked over my shoulder before I slid the list from my pocket.

I shuffled up and down the aisles cultivating the same blank look as the other patrons so as to avoid drawing unwanted attention to myself. I've been in this business almost 20 years. You just can't be too careful. The biggest challenge for me is matching the moseying pace of of the seemingly undead herd when all I want is to execute my brilliant plan and bask in the glory of its completion. Nonetheless, I was careful to plod along dully so I could blend in. I'd come this far and didn't want to mess it up now.

Value packs of cod and flounder fillets, institutional sized boxes of breakfast cereal and crackers, multipacks of various canned goods all went into my cart. I grabbed a bag of organic apples and a jug of skim milk too just to keep up the appearances of being a conscientious mother feeding hungry hordes. I was sure the fist of coupons I handed the cashier would help in that regard as well. I kept it casual as I unloaded the cart onto the conveyor belt and chatted with the cashier. Even when she said I could keep the really heavy items in the cart and she'd scan them where they sat I chucked them up on the belt declaring to everyone in earshot that I had nothing terribly burdensome. In retrospect that may have been my undoing. I was trying too hard.

I paid the bill, took my receipt, and headed for the door. I had just one final hurdle to clear. I'd have to present my receipt and cart at the exit for inspection. On any other day I would have lucked out and gotten James, the sweet retired man with an Irish brogue, who always winked and sent me on my way with barely a glance at receipt or cart contents. I may even have been fortunate enough to pass under the gaze of Chandra who empathized with all the mothers struggling to feed their brood without needing to resort to exotic dancing for grocery money. Not this day. Today I'd have to endure the scrutiny of Carlos. How Carlos affords the bling which hangs so heavily around his neck on the wages of a door checker I'm not sure. It could be that, just like me, there is more to Carlos than meets the eye.

I slowed the cart to a stop and smiled as I handed the receipt to Carlos meeting his gaze through his fashion eye wear. Keep it cool, girl, you're almost home. He scanned the slip slowly before eying my cart suspiciously. I considered remarking how easy it is to fill one of these rattling buggies to overflowing when you haven't shopped since before Christmas but thought better of it and remained silent. It's a simple rule, better to not begin offering excuses until one is asked to defend oneself. My reticence proved futile anyway when Carlos asked about the 36 count variety pack.

"So you only have one of those, right?"

"36 pack of what?"

"I dunno, it just says 36 count variety pack?"

I spied the big yellow '36' in bubble print standing out on the box of pudding cups and pointed casually, "Yep, right there it is. That's plenty of pudding for my crew. Just one box." He wasn't buying it and continued to search as he peered suspiciously over the rims of his rhinestone encrusted glasses.

"Lotta items in your cart. You sure there's only one box of pudding?"

"Yep, just one." I offered tersely. And then I noticed among the pins on his employee vest, obscured by the gold cutout of his name, was the piece that identified him as a member of the rival gelatin syndicate that had been moving in on the territory of my boss's control of the Mid-Atlantic pudding cartel. The shifty eyes of that custard lackey had been hidden behind his subtly ombre shaded lenses. I leaned in and let him know I was on to him. "Listen, cart man. I'm Tapioca McFlan." He couldn't hide the fear my name struck in his heart. "That's right, I'm right hand to the biggest runner of congealed desserts on the east coast, Big Daddy Knox Blox. Now you just step back and let this cart pass or you may find yourself in the Delaware River wearing a pair of Jello overshoes, you hear?"

Carlos got a little cocky for a moment and retorted, "But Jello floats."

"Not when you substitute gravel for the mandarin oranges and bananas in the mold, you pudding headed, ninny! Now I'm gonna tell you only one more time to let me on my way."

Carlos shook like the half-gelled mess he really was while I stood firm as a creme brulee and stared him down. He meekly stepped aside and I strode out knowing Big Daddy Knox Blox and Tap McFlan had a firm grip on the pudding trade and my kids would get their fix.


smarmoofus said...

*giggle* Big Daddy Knox Blox! So clever! hehehe Well worth the time it took to read... *counts quickly*... what was that? 56 words? Close enough for me. What's the name of the grocery?

G-Man said...

Do Not Mess with the Jello Queen!!!
There's always room for you!
...or so I've heard.
Love your stories limey.

James Goodman-Horror Writer said...

lol, that was...awesome. :D I know where to go for all of my future pudding needs.

ALRO said...

I would have made him take my whole cart apart!

"Only one of those eh?"
"Uhm.. well there could be two -- three... six!!! maybe.. i .. I'm not sure.. ONE!! I have one.. " tapping my upper lip and looking up in thought, admiring the industrial ventalation... "I think, " I add .. "You may have to check.. "

Oh ya.. I'd make the guy earn his $8/hr.

furiousBall said...

haha, that's awesome. happy weekend amiga!

Palm Springs Savant said...

lol. good one lime.

gotta love BJ's....

Cooper said...

What's so sexual about Sam's Club? or Costco?

Lizard Princess said...

I was mildly distracted by the same question that cooper just which over-sized discount store was it? I'm confused by sexual references that I don't understand. I'M usually the one to make those, not the one to be confused by them!!

I enjoyed the spiraling out-of-control nature of your common grocery trip. Some days are like that, aren't they?

Beach Bum said...

I must admit that going into Sam's Club is about as bad as going to my in-laws. From the near Fort Knox security when you enter to the cart checker of your post. Thanks for the laugh I needed it because we are going back ourselves Saturday.

Akelamalu said...

I was hoping for a 55 but that was great!

Anonymous said...

Bah! Stupid Man! Who dare mess with a Lime and Her Jello?

barman said...

Now we only have Aldis and Save-a-Lot up in our neck of the woods that fall into the catagory of stores you mention. Nothing sexual I can see about them however.

Perhaps I have not been shopping enough there or perhaps, just perhaps, I have not bought in large enough quantities or maybe it is becuase I buy the Sugar Free variety but I have not noticed the jiggler syndicate trying to move in on my cart before. As a matter of fact I have seen no evidence of the cartel either.

Perhaps we have a new market for your boss to move into.

cathy said...

My nearest grocery stores are called Marinopoulse, Basilopoulos and Veropoulos. Yhey all soound like STDs to me.

All that wobbles is not jello!

Lizard Princess said...

Thanks for answering that nagging question...I was beginning to feel uninformed.
We only have Sam's club and Aldi's up here...although I have heard of Cosco's, too (but not BJ's)!

San said...

Wow, I AM wondering about the name of your superclub. Here we've got Sam's. Not too sexy. And fortunately the doorcheckers aren't on steroids either.

But I'm forewarned. There's always a first.

SignGurl said...

Haha!! I was thinking Sam's Club and Costco too. I guess they are part of the Jello syndicate.

Your stories always make me laugh out loud.

So, how many rolls of toilet paper do you have at your house?

david mcmahon said...

Michelle, you are BRILLIANT,

This post made me day, my week. You have the gift of putting us in the picture, right beside you.

Must be that new less-editing-is-great approach. I am so proud. You have so many subtle nuances to your writing - reality, humour, asides, witticisms, great description.

Bless you for you great ability ....


jillie said...

Oh how I wish I could have been there behind you.

"But Jello floats" How does he know that? I'm thinking it disolves if anything...d'oh!!!

Have a great wknd Lime ;o)

Shari said...

Stare 'em down, that's right. You got a family to feed.

gab said...

Well (shaking in me boots) I hope I never come across you in a dark alley while Im eatin my jello pudding! LOL I shop those club places about once a month and every time I go in with a list of just what I have to have and every time we come out with extra.....(I gotta learn to leave Mr Gab at home)

S said...

OMG girl that post rocks! Do I detect a new writing style?
I didnt think it was you there.....

I have to know what is the name of that store?

We have FOOD MAXX and COSTCO but I cant shop there because my house is too small for 36 packs of anything.

WOW Now you got me going...what fun to go to India with YOU..OMG my mind is whirring whir whir! We could stage an invasion on Mona!
Im still here waiting for the taxi that is coming in three more hours......

Cant wait to get home!
Later Miss

San said...

Just popping in again. Nice to see this post still at the top of your blog.

I agree with David. Brilliant and hilarious! Thanks.

Theresa said...

My mind is still working on the name of that's been a long time since I was in the States and I don't remember what any of those discount places were called. So, how much pudding can your family possibly eat?

I just finished reading the last episode of Adventures in Orthodontia and couldn't help but feel pity for poor Diana (okay, I laughed a little too). It's bad enough to have someone messing around in your mouth without being gloomy to bat. My orthodontist is a perky French woman who is always cheerful, so I'm quite thankful.

Lolly said...

Wow, I'm so glad the world has more than just practical, no-nonsense kind of people like me in it!
Great writing!

airplanejayne said...

okay - I love "jello floats."

and we KNOW that the whole "store thing" is all about sex -- at least for me. so this one just had me in stitches...

good one, sweetie!

snowelf said...

Oh Lime! I was squishing in as many 55's as I could on Friday in the 15 minutes I allow myself to read email/blogs in the morning when I first get up, and so when I saw your post, I just KNEW it would be worth it when I got back here!!!
Plus, now I know who to contact if I ever have a pudding shakedown.


Cheesy said...

Lime jello!! mmmmm
Great story sweets!

RennyBA said...

Good girl - you always handle things with elegance ;-)

And then I noticed: cod and flounder fillets - hmmmm - sounds like Scandinavian delights you know!

Btw: Could you do me a favour: I'm nominated for Santa's Blog of the Day. Could you give me a voting hand?

The Zombieslayer said...

LOL at the exotic dancing comment. I've found talking to strippers that almost every stripper I knew was a single mother with no child support to be found. Nice girls, just in bad financial situations.

We have Costco here, so I imagine that store you're referring to is the East Coast's version of it. I haven't been to the East since '88, so don't know your stores.

Dorky Dad said...

Just one more reason I don't shop at whatever place it is you just shopped at. Ick. I'd rather have those scary alarms go off.

Jocelyn said...

Big Daddy Knox Blox


"Jello floats"


Lime hilariousness.

What a great story of a dessert caper (my favorite subgenre).

Flash said...

The Pudding Cartel!

I love Sams Club, if only to mess with the people who have to look over the cart and receipt before leaving.

Cause my Sams club sells 36 packs of condoms, 3 pack of Astro-glide, and lots of spaghetti sauce. Keeping a straight face, when looking over it, I just said "Big Party tonight"

Merisi said...

Thank you from the bottom of my shopping cart, er, heart, for the good laugh! Wonderful story, although it leaves a question open: Do they carry ware-house sized earth-friendly canvas shopping bags? If so, please let me know where I can order them.
I owe it to David McMahon to have found you. Thanks to both of you. :-)

Suldog said...

"custard lackey"

The laugh you gave me from that alone should get you into heaven.