In the week or two ahead of Christmas I do my best to cut back on errands that require me to go out in public so as to avoid the chaos. It’s bad enough dealing with the occasional distracted driver or the one who drives across parking lots like a bat out of hell or the people who bump into others without apologizing on a normal day in the spring; the second half of December is the worst. Years like this one when Hanukkah arrived and ended a little early are my favorite because it helps the cause, the cause being my sanity.
Unfortunately, Jim and I do need to eat so grocery store runs cannot be completely avoided.
Armed with my list, I grabbed one of those little half-sized carts that we empty nesters get to use all the time because we are no longer buying for an army (two parents and two growing boys) and I speed-walked through the store, staying out of everybody’s way. Everything on my short list was crossed off in ten minutes and I made my way to the cash register, relieved that I only had this one final obstacle before I could get out of Dodge.
To say the cashier was nice would be an understatement. This is the actual, awkwardly pleasant (or pleasantly awkward) conversation that occurred:
Cashier: “Hi! How are you today?”
Me: “I’m fine. Thank you for asking!”
Cashier: “You’re WELCOME! Did you find everything you needed?”
Me: “Yes. Thank you.”
Cashier: “You’re WELCOME!” Do you want to hang onto this nail polish so it doesn’t get lost in the bags?”
Me: “Sure. I’ve thrown them away before. Good idea. Thank you!”
Cashier: “You’re WELCOME! Oh, do you have your store discount card?”
Me: “Oops! I do! I forgot to give it to you at the beginning. Here you go. Thank you!”
Cashier: “You’re WELCOME! Do you need any help out?”
Me: “No, I’m fine. Thank you!”
Cashier: “You’re WELCOME! Have a great day!”
Me: “Thank you!”
Cashier: “You’re WELCOME! Bye!”
It was all I could do to shove the rising laughter at this over-the-top “Saturday Night Live”-like exchange down into the depths of my soul, because I didn’t want this lovely woman to think that she was doing anything wrong: she definitely wasn’t. It was just that the enthusiasm with which she exclaimed “You’re WELCOME!” with the emphasis on the second word was similar to what you’d expect from someone who was just given a free trip to Europe rather than just a part of a regular old display of good manners.
Successfully stuffing my laughter, I left the store smiling and appreciative of her service. I was still smiling when I put my groceries into the trunk of the car, and I was still smiling as I backed out of the parking space to head home.
Then three erratically-driven cars nearly ran into me in separate scenarios before I even got to the traffic light and my smile got a little smaller. Holiday season, bah humbug!
“I’m out of here,” I thought to myself.
“Thank you!” I thought back.