This morning, I went to the A&P with my son, Eddie, and as I pushed my cart through the entranceway, two women were standing just in front of the door talking , making it impossible to step into the store. I was stuck in the path of the automatic door.
They inched forward about a foot, enough to enable me to get out of the doorway but not enough to really enter the store.
“Excuse me,” I said again.
But as I said it, I saw a woman was pushing her cart in front of them, making it impossible for them to move forward any further. One of the two women turned to me and said, “We can’t move anywhere until she gets out of our way.”
“Yes, I understand that, but you shouldn’t stand in a doorway of a store,” I said. I was annoyed they were standing there at all.
“Oh, you understand that? I’m glad you understand. Thank you,” the woman said snidely.
“You’re an asshole,” I said and pushed my cart past her.
As I headed toward the lettuce, I thought, “Why did I say that? How do I wind up in these petty arguments over petty things, where I wind up saying, ‘You’re an asshole.’” I didn’t know if I was more annoyed that I’d gotten into the exchange or that I didn’t have a better retort.
I moved from aisle to aisle in the produce section, trying to decide whether to pay three times more for the organic broccoli or just roll the dice and hope maybe the pesticide didn’t get on that piece, and yet my mind kept gravitating to the exchange with the woman. I walked over to the banana display and couldn’t find the organic bananas. They say bananas are one fruit on which you can forgo buying organic because it has a peel, which protects the meat from the pesticide. But after hearing news reports about Central American workers who are born with birth defects because their families have worked in the banana fields and were doused with DDT, I can’t help but buy my bananas organic. But I didn’t see any. A store manager was standing right there and pointed them out to me.
The manager then said, “I can’t believe it’s 9 a.m. and three people have already called out sick.”
“I can’t believe it’s 9 a.m., and I’ve already gotten into an argument with someone,” I said.
He just looked at me. I picked up a bunch of bananas and wheeled my cart away. As I got to the yams, the woman with whom I’d had the altercation spotted me and came wheeling her cart over.
“You know I was thinking,” she said in a sweet voice, “I saw you had a baby. He’s going to have some mouth on him by the time he’s one.”
“You hunted me down to tell me that?” I said, trying to mock her for still thinking about our argument 10 minutes later – even though I was, too. I again wished I had been more clever. I certainly couldn’t have said, “You’re an asshole.” Not only had I already said it, but it would have proved her point.
I wanted to have said something like, “Well, he may wind up with a foul mouth, but at least he won’t be a dumbass who holds a conversation in the middle of a doorway.” But then it was only 9 a.m. I had the rest of the day to come up with something sufficiently biting.