Wednesday, March 01, 2006

If You're Waiting on Me You're Backing Up

I'm always in the wrong line. Why? Because I'm in it.

I'm the person who gets to the checkout at McDonald's and realizes I have no paper money and left my debit card in the locker at the YMCA. So I start counting out pennies, nickels and dimes because my kids spent all my quarters feeding those greedy sheep at the zoo. Expecting a miracle, I slowly count, "Five, six, seven, eight, and five more makes 13. Plus 10 makes 23 cents. I'm sorry what did you say the total was?"


"Good lord. What did we order?"

"You ordered a hamburger and small fries for the four of you to share. And water. You didn't order happy meals with the cute Curious George toys inside. That's why your kids are crying their eyes out."

"You rang the drinks up as tap water, right? Not the bottled kind," I say.


"Okay. I just need to run to the YMCA."

"You mean the ATM?"

"No, I mean the. (I'm reminded that I don't have the pin number to get into my locker.) Nevermind. Come on kids, we've got noodles and butter at home. I'll draw you a picture of a little monkey and we'll cut it out and make a paperdoll."

Something like that always happens. And the people behind us are too dumbfounded to even roll their eyes. But honestly, why do they stand behind us? Don't they realize that a woman with snot, coffee stains and an old bandaid stuck to her shirt does not have her act together?

There's a construction worker holding a $20 bill standing next to us. He's been lifting heavy objects all day and is hungry as a bear. It never occured to people that he'd seal the deal on his lunch faster than my three kids and I would? Look at us, we're zipping up our raincoats and opening our umbrellas. The little sharp parts are poking us in our eyes and we're accusing each other of doing it on purpose. It's pouring down rain only on us. And we're inside a fast food restaurant. That didn't give people a clue not to stand behind us?

A guy always stands behind us at the grocery store holding two things, like a bottle of 7-up and a sack of potatos.

We've got four kinds of snack crackers, 50 yogurts, a tree full of bananas, glue, notepads, dog food, bird seed, lightbulbs, hamburger, taco shells, black beans, white beans and red beans, Happy O's, Magic Marshmallow's, pop sold by the can and 30 live chickens piled up like a Jinga game on the check out counter.

What are you doing, man? I want to ask the potato guy. Get a hold of yourself and get in another line.

But he stands there patiently as the chickens perform a little tap dance routine and dish soap from the dollar aisle spills all over the place, and well, there go the chickens.

I guess he didn't catch the early show in the produce aisle where my kids threw each and every apple into the scale and tried to catch them in their mouths when they fell out.

He's completed the New York Times crossword puzzle and snorted indignantly at every tabloid headline. Now he's typing the Great American Novel on his laptop.

"She can ring you out on line 3," I say. He doesn't budge.

Yesterday, I was at the drive-thru bank by myself. Now this is when people should get in line behind me. My hair was brushed. I was thinking clearly. My checks were endorsed. But wouldn't you know it, the girl looked at my account and started sweating bullets.

"This is saying you don't have an account here," she said.

She typed feverishly on the keyboard as if to counteract a nuclear attack. Her waterproof mascara ran down her face. She called her mom to tell her she loved her.

I looked behind me. Rather than pulling over into the next line, a carload of people had put on red windbreakers and were cooking hotdogs on an electric grill. They were drinking cans of Budweiser and singing "Chiefs and Chopper."

That's it. People enjoy waiting in line. They say they don't. But in fact, it is their opportunity to sit around and do nothing while blaming someone else (me) for all their problems.

I always apologize in these situations. Not anymore. From now on, I'm going to look them in the eye and say, "You're welcome."


Anonymous pat brewster said...

This is one of the best - I am cracking up all the way through! Well done!!

6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasn't your nickname in college "Lucky"?

6:52 AM  
Anonymous ann roder fox said...

I want to be in line behind you for the entertainment. Brian John Roder is going to get in big trouble for sending me here---I'm having too much fun on your site to go back to work! You need to sell these to some magazines, darling. You are great!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Lori Taylor said...

You are a wonderful writer. I just happened onto your blog, and it became a bright spot in my day.

3:16 PM  

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