What Have I Done For Me Lately?

Before I moved in with CC and the kids, the only meat I ate was fish. I hadn’t had a cold cut in probably fifteen years. Suddenly I was living with six carnivores and if I didn’t want to get eaten, I needed to learn how to at least purchase meat, if not cook it.

Cold cuts for school lunches are the one thing we don’t buy on our weekly hot date. We save that for Monday night since Monday (being our day off) is throw-money-at-the-kids-so-they-can-eat-crap-at-school day. Usually CC gets the lunchmeat, because he knows me and the deli counter, and because he’s a good man.

My grocery store has an electronic ordering thing for the deli, which is how I prefer to do it. It prevents me from completely melting down and leaving without lunchmeat. I don’t have to speak to anyone. I can browse the menu at my leisure without the line behind me getting all Jersey, without having to reveal that I am not of Italian descent and do not know the differences between salamis. But when the deli counter is slammed, they shut that system down.

Second cat from the right.

But the other night , at 8pm CC was still with #4 at the long and far away softball game (freezing his ass off, I might add) while I had earlier been at #5’s short and nearby baseball game (with blankets, because I had frozen my own ass off the night before and knew better). Unless I was going to be a complete jerk, I had to get the lunchmeat.

I walked in, saw the line at the deli counter, saw the electronic system shut down,  heaved a sigh, took a number and got on line.

Usually three people work the counter; only two were on. I realized that one of them was my least favorite employee of all time. You have one somewhere too, don’t you? The one employee you’ll go out of your way to not have to deal with? If they’re at the gas station, you will drive on fumes and pay ten cents per gallon more to avoid them; if they are at the genius bar, you will walk out and skip that appointment you booked three weeks ago because it was the first available; if they are your barista you know there’s no point in ordering what you really want and you just get black coffee.

Mine is Short-Attention-Span, Slow-Moving Woman at the deli counter. Let’s call her Debi. Because it’s all she would be able to remember were she named Deborah. I met her when CC was out of town last year and quickly learned that whenever she waits on me I end up cutting my order short and getting more expensive prepackaged crap from the aisle around the corner. I can’t take it. For a task that’s already so daunting to me, she makes it like herding cats in quicksand. Except way less amusing.

So I pull a move that makes me worthy of my New Jersey residency status. Debi calls my number and I turn to the woman next to me and tell her she can go ahead because I have a lot to order.

She’s quite surprised at my generosity. Giving up your place on line is really more of an Indiana thing than a Jersey thing. We swap our little numbers because there are still like fifteen people behind us.

Meanwhile, the other employee, Regularly Efficient Man, goes to the back to get a hunk of turkey. He is gone a long time. There then begins a conversation between the two women currently being waited on.

Nice Jersey Lady #1: I had a good spot in front of the TV and then somebody decided he was out of ice cream!

Nice Jersey Lady #2: Oh yeah, it’s a good night tonight! I’m DVR-ing it.

{Exchange related to some TV show I’ve never watched}.

I’m thinking that being out of ice cream is a perfectly good reason to go to the store. I’m thinking in fact that it was mere hours ago that I went out just for cookies. For me. That I ate by myself in the car. It takes me a minute to realize they’re including me in the conversation. My offer to trade places has broken the ice. They mistakenly believe me altruistic when the truth is that I was trying to fix it so the other guy waits on me.

I smile blankly and stay silent.

Nice Jersey Lady #1, rolling her eyes knowingly: My husband doesn’t know the inside of a grocery store.

Nice Jersey Lady #2, in sympathy: Oh no. Never. The one time my husband went to Costco he was hungry and nearly bought the whole store out.

I smile uncomfortably again because they are staring at me and it seems to be my turn to complain about my husband.

Me: I’m lucky. My husband usually does all of this.

I gesture in the general direction of the entire grocery store.

Their mouths drop open.

Me: He’s still at the softball game, so I had to come.

Their mouths drop open further.

Meanwhile, Debi has asked the woman I let in front of me no less than four times how much of this ham she wants (3/4 of a pound. Surprisingly, the answer is the same every time). Regularly Efficient Man finally returns with the turkey. I am very, very afraid that my plan has not worked; he’s been gone a really long time.

Nice Jersey Lady #1: My God, I thought you were back there plucking the feathers off of that bird!

Even with the plucking, he still finishes before Debi. Only by seconds though. I step up to him before Debi can call my new number.

Nice Jersey Lady #2: Thank you again, so much!

Nice Jersey Lady #1: That was such a nice thing that you did, letting her go ahead. There should be more people like you.

I am quite sure that there are far more people like me than she realized.

What good turns have you done lately? Who’s the service person you go out of your way to avoid?