“Sorry, I suffer from rage blackouts.”
My mood was bad as I arrived home yesterday evening, due to a number of factors. One was my recurring wrist pain, which is not only painful and inconvenient, but also makes me sad because it means I’ll totally never be Mary Lou Retton for real. And the fact that I probably need surgery, which I definitely can’t afford…
…which leads me to rage reason number two, which is that I am broke at all times, despite the fact that I closed all freaking weekend long at ShopRite. And the bit of cash that I did have yesterday? I left at home. All I wanted to do with it was buy three things. The first was a garbage pail, so I could be a respectable grownup and stop throwing my garbage bags on the floor of my kitchen. I also needed garbage bags, since I am down to the last one, and garbage pail or not, am not going to start scattering garbage all around my floor; I’ll leave that to my cats.
And speaking of whom, that was the final thing on my shopping list — cat food. I tried so hard to get them to eat the 9 Lives that was on sale six for a dollar, but they simply refused, and as I was running out the door to work, my cats gave me looks that clearly stated, “Where the HELL are you going yet again and are you seriously not giving us new food?” Suddenly, I knew that they saw through me. They weren’t just mad that I was leaving; they understood that I have two jobs to work. What they didn’t appreciate was the lack of imagination that I was exhibiting, like, did I really think they were that dumb? They knew that I knew that they hate 9 Lives, but I kept dropping it with an apology and running away, insulting not only their refined palates, but also their intelligence.
So I didn’t have money to get anything I needed, and let me tell you something, if there’s anything worse than having to work two jobs, it’s working two jobs and barely affording rent and necessities, and if there is anything worse than that, it is not even having the money for necessities, and if there is anything worse than that it is leaving work at 11pm on Sunday night after working eight hours, knowing I was going to have to face my cats emptyhanded, and if there is anything worse than THAT it is not at all even getting to leave at 11pm, because of Sunday Night Jackass.
Sunday Night Jackass is a regular at ShopRite. The first time I ever encountered him, he seemed harmless enough, even pleasant. The first indication that he wasn’t was when he shoved his ShopRite card through my scanner, and people? Don’t do that. It’s really obnoxious. We cashiers are wearing aprons and nametags (in theory) while scanning groceries; let us just have our tiny bit of dignity and personal space.
So anyway, you know how some guys make up for their manly shortcomings by driving their loud cars really fast? Well SNJ does it by sneaking into ShopRite every Sunday just as we’re closing. And I guess he like, hides in the empty salad bar or something, because he was totally not in Brian’s customer count at 10:55, yet there he materializes out of thin air at 11, skulking about, filling me with rage. I WANT TO GO HOME! But he saunters up to my register with some stuff, and as I’m indignantly scanning it, he’s all nonchalantly holding up a heavy case of Snapple, how much is this, and I’m like, well do you have your card, and that is when he shoves his card around the scanner, just narrowly missing my chest, which really grinds my gears (TM Peter Griffin), and then I struggle valiantly with his stupid Snapple, and it’s $6.75. “No,” he says, “I don’t want it,” and I am cursing at him in my mind as he then WALKS AWAY, not to put BACK his effing Snapple, but to GO BUY MORE STUFF!
So then an employee comes up to buy some cookies, because that’s the only time he can do it, which is fine, but he of course has to wait while stupid SNJ goes grocery browsing or whatever the hell he is doing, and meanwhile a random fireman is there with his one little pint of ice cream, and normally I worship firemen no questions asked, but I feel like telling him it’s after 11, go buy your pints of ice cream at 7-11 like the rest of us depressed folk, but really my issue is with FREAKING SNJ, who is now not only an asshole who starts shopping when we close, but is holding up a line of men seeking to buy comfort food.
Finally, he strolls back up to the register as I glare at him and he looks all smug, and I finish his order as fast as I can. Just as I am about to ring up Nice Employee Whose Name I Don’t Know’s Entenmanns, the fireman begins to tell me that he doesn’t have his ShopRite card, and I am totally handling the situation, but SNJ is for some reason STILL THERE, and somehow still in my FACE, and pipes in, “It’s okay, he can use mine,” and I very clearly state “No,” because a) we’re not allowed to do that, b) it was not yet the fireman’s turn, and c) SHUT UP AND LEAVE RIGHT THIS SECOND BEFORE I LEAP OVER MY REGISTER AND BEAT YOU SENSELESS WITH THE COLD CUTS YOU CALLED IN AT 10:55, SUNDAY NIGHT JACKASS!
But no, he does not listen, and he swipes his card over my scanner yet again, and at this point I am nearly blind with rage, so much so that I accidentally scan the cookies and ice cream together, and Nice Employee nicely points this out to me, and SNJ is meanwhile for some reason still in front of my face instead of running away like he should be, and now he is backseat cashiering! Telling me that we should all be having energetic spirits, and invoking the name of the supermarket owner whose name I won’t mention, because I could probably get in enough trouble for this entry right now as it is (Go ShopRite it rules woooo!), and I seriously am so angry at SNJ, and thinking how remarkable it is in a town like Plainview, to really stand out in the crowd as the biggest bitch with a sense of entitlement, especially when you include all the Town Bagel customers, but SNJ manages to do it.
So there I am, standing in my kitchen, home from a hellish shift, with no bags to put my garbage in, no pail to put my no bags in, and definitely no Fancy Feast that I promised to my cats the last time I saw them. I could barely look them in the eye, the guilt was so overwhelming. Chip still looked hopeful, but Dr. von Rockenstein knew, and didn’t even seem surprised, just resigned.
I couldn’t do it. This was like the period of time in 1985 where my mother appeared to lose her mind and every single night made a dinner that involved ground beef, pasta, cheese, and marinara sauce. Sometimes it was elbow macaroni, sometimes rotelle. Sometimes the sauce was Prego, sometimes store brand. But it was essentially the same dinner for literally like a month straight that my mother made, and the weirdest thing was that she didn’t seem to find it strange at all. So my brother and I just sort of sat there in the kitchen, much like my cats were doing now, looking at my mother with a combination of bemusement and unease. Much like my cats were doing now.
No! I was not going down that way! I was not going to let my cats think that I was losing my mind, or that all they had to look forward to was a life of humdrum monotony! I might as well become one of those people who buy all the same exact flavor of cat food, like 60 cans, which I never understand.
“I’m sorry!” I cried out yet again as I ran out the door while Doc and Chip stood there, disbelieving, mouths agape. But not for long. I jumped in my car and drove to 7-11, just like the fireman should have done. Two dollars for two tiny cans of food later, I got back in my car. Once home for real this time, I turned on the TV immediately to feel less lonely, then proceeded to feed my cats the good stuff.
It made me a little sad to see how shocked Doc was that she wasn’t grossed out by her food, and a little perplexed to see Chip rejecting his food in favor of spinning around and around, but most of all, I was happy. I felt tired; I felt broke, but I felt like a good provider. All was peaceful. All was well.
But then — THEN, like Amy Irving’s hand bursting from the grave at the end of “Carrie,” a commercial aired in the background and I couldn’t help but notice.
“Lays — Get your smile on!”
“Get your smile on.”
And that is when everything went dark.
© February 6, 2006