For those of you who ever might think that I fabricate (or hallucinate) any of the conversations I occasionally relate here, please be assured that I do not.
My husband and children, any combination of whom have often lurked in the background while these exchanges take place will confirm, with resignation and embarrassment, that they are true. For whatever reason, I seem to bring "it" out of people.
It is with this humble preface that I now share yesterday's encounter with the produce guy in a supermarket not too far from my house.
I saw him from a distance. White haired and florid, he was belligerently stuffing bags of salad into lucite slots, while wearing his produce visor at a somewhat rebellious tilt. He was all but lying in wait for a victim, I could sense it.
It came off him in waves that smelled slightly like dill.
I approached, angling myself to quickly pluck what I'd come for -- a bag of Italian mix (romaine, radicchio and a bit of frisee) -- from it's shelf and make my getaway. The express check-out was only a few yards away.
I gunned my motor and zoomed by, cart a-rolling. Slowing down slightly, I grabbed, tossing my bag of pre-washed greens into the cart. Mission accomplished. I could smell the popcorn.
But then I heard it, clear as day...
"People are idiots!" growled the produce guy.
I stopped. I simply cannot resist a good "people are idiots" story. "Why do you say that?" I asked.
"BAGGED SALAD!" he answered, voice now raised.
Realizing that I was one of the idiots to whom he was referring, I reconsidered my commitment to this conversation. Especially since I harbor huge guilt about buying bagged salad.
It's expensive and often a little on the wilted side. Plus every time I buy a bag, I feel like I am dissing my grandmother who, when I was a very little girl not only chopped her own vegetables but actually plucked chickens in the kitchen--holding the freshly killed bird between her knees as she pulled out the pinfeathers.
Sensing weakness, Produce Guy grabbed a bag of salad and waved it at me, ordering me to read the expiration date.
I was now a little scared but leaned toward him to see that the date was in April, nearly two weeks away. I also took this opportunity to try and determine if he'd been drinking but smelled nothing other than the white hot consternation of a vegetable purist.
"Wow," I don't think that salad will still be fresh by then..." I mumbled.
"EXACTLY!" he bellowed. "Do you know how many people are going to buy this after looking at the date, open it and then bring it back because it's not fresh??!!
He grabbed a three-pack of romaine and wiggled it around, suggesting I choose that instead. "It's tastier, " he encouraged, looking at the bags of salad as if they contained little Nazi flags instead of spring mix. "It will stay fresh longer and you won't be back tomorrow to return it."
"I've never returned a bag of salad in my life," I said lamely, thinking of Seth and popcorn and the disasters unfolding without me.
"Trust me, YOU WILL!" It was at this moment that I decided not to reach for the bag of pre-shredded carrots I coveted and cut my losses. Putting back the salad from my cart, I took the romaine from his out-stretched hand and fled.
After all, disaster awaited....