Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Checkout-line encounter: not a clue

One day as I bagged my groceries at No Frills, I watched the little old fellow second in line behind me as he puttered past the young woman ahead of him.  He was very small and wrinkled and had an elfish, toothless grin.

The young woman had only a few things, and while she paid, he waited at the end of the conveyor belt for his items to come through.  His cart was in her way, so she said, "I need to get by here" -- no "excuse me" or anything.  He just moved aside and kept talking to himself.

As his items moved down to the end of the belt, one box tipped over onto the floor.  It was a package of Vachon caramel cakes.  I picked it up.  "I think these are yours" -- but he didn't seem to hear.

The young woman snickered.  "I don't think he has a clue what's going on, actually."

"Oh, that's OK," I said -- but as I watched her walk to her car, I wished I'd said, "That could be you some day.  Some young person will be telling you to move and saying you don't have a clue."

I left the store at that point, so I don't know which way the old fellow went.  But I imagined him tottering home, looking forward to having a caramel cake as a nice treat with his supper, and laughing away at some private joke.



6 comments:

  1. I can just see it all happening, Jeannie. If that woman had told me the guy didn't have a clue, I don't think I could have restrained my self from telling her that she was the one who's clueless. Oh well, perhaps that's why this all happened with you around and not me!

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    1. Well, I sort of wish I had said it on the spot, Tim, although I'm not sure it would have accomplished anything other than elevate my blood pressure.

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  2. I know that feeling of "I wish I would have said this or that." But sometimes unabashed rudeness can leave a person speechless for a moment! :-(

    I watched a video recently in which an actor with Down Syndrome worked with other actors to set up a scenario at a grocery store. The young man with Down Syndrome played the part of a bagger and the other actors took turns acting out the part of a rude customer who verbally abused the bagger. It was very interesting to see how the other customers responded. I'll see if I can find it and give you the link.

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    1. Wow! I'd love to see that. Thanks, Adriana.

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  3. What also strikes me about the encounter was the vulnerability of the elderly gentleman. I love your perspective on it. But I also wonder at how easy it would be, as he's making his way home, for someone to accost him and take his caramel creams from him.
    Beautiful blog, vulnerable situation.

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    1. That's true, Sarah -- I hadn't thought of that. I wish I knew more of his story. There was, as I said, something almost elfish about him. He seemed like a happy person. But I'm sure his personal situation couldn't be easy.

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