Anxious Dog, Bad Shopper

I’m bad about putting goods back where they belong when shopping. If I’ve got regular carrots in my cart, for instance, and then find some tri-coloreds across the way, I have no problem leaving my first selection where they don’t belong and continuing on my merry way.

I’ve been known to stuff a loaf of bread in with the canned goods or to leave chips in with the baking supplies. On occasion, impatience dictates that I abandon the venture altogether. That might mean dumping four or five items in the clementine display before walking out of the building.

I know — I’m bad! I’m not so terrible that if a garment slides off its hangar I’ll leave it on the floor, but close. I certainly have no compunction about stowing a medium in with the larges and judging by the near-random sorting of sizes in places like Marshall’s, clearly I’m not the only one.

(Just so you know — I’m an excellent tipper).

My most recent delinquency occurred on Friday in Walgreen’s and had everything to do with my anxious dog. He was waiting in the car while I was waiting (and waiting) for a flu shot.

Even though it’s mid-January, I decided to get this done. There was a line at the pharmacy and only one cashier open. When finally my turn, there were the usual delays inputting insurance info. And then there were two people ahead of me waiting for shots.

None of that got to me. But when I noticed that the shot-giver disappeared for inexplicably long periods after administering each vaccine, I decided to hold it against her.

The woman immediately ahead of me had lots of questions, tugging her germ mask down to ask. She needed instruction on how to expose her shoulder.

“Wait,” said the pharmacy worker. “Have you already gotten a flu shot?” Well, yes she had. It was supposed that a second shot couldn’t hurt but it couldn’t be stated with any certainty that it’d afford additional protection, either. Ms. Two Shots was making me wait? I knew Finn was on high-alert out in the parking lot, probably drooling all over the back seat. I paced a polite distance away, occasionally wandering down the head of an aisle — never far enough away to lose my place in line. I selected a pill box (having determined that my improvised chocolate box insert was problematic) and a sporty new headband (god forbid I should spring for a haircut).

The folding screen was wrapped around the two of them but it didn’t stop me from hearing everything. It also didn’t stop a clueless shopper from peeking around one panel to ask where the hair dryers were. She was probably four foot ten (giving her the dubious distinction of being definitely shorter than I) and Russian.

“Look with the hair products,” said the shot-giver. That wasn’t enough. Where were the hair products? “I’m with someone right now,” the white-coated woman sniped. I didn’t blame her, what with pains in the asses on both sides of the screen and a third woman pacing in circles nearby.

I directed the woman to the proper aisle. “There they are,” I said pointing to the bottom shelf. She still didn’t see them. Was it a vision or a language problem? She certainly was close enough to the ground for a good vantage of the lower shelves (hey — I’m allowed!). Since I’ve been blind even when being helped, I added, “Bottom shelf. Pink and blue boxes.” Yes, okay, now she saw.

The folding screen was flapped open, the shot-giver disappeared again and the woman with the mask trundled off. I sat down and pulled my sweater down over one shoulder. No instruction needed for this shot-getter!

Two middle school girls wandered around in a state of bored contempt. It was an odd throwback. I mean, when I was in eighth grade, everybody did this sort of thing: riding your bike to Friendly’s and hanging out; haunting the Goodwill on North Street; looking at cosmetics at England Brothers with no intention of buying any. But here, in 2018? They were so very retro by not being at gymnastics, or studying for their Bat Mitzvahs, or getting better at trig with a tutor. Their gaze made me uncomfortable, as I’m sure it was meant to. I felt both middle-aged and very relieved (not for the first time) at not having daughters.

Finally, Ms. Pony Tail in the white coat re-emerged after presumably doing nothing that could possibly have taken up that much time. For some reason, she flapped the privacy screen more open instead of closed. The middle school girls looked again. I wanted privacy, but wanted to get out of there quickly even more.

I mentioned the waiting dog. She earned points for having two herself, one of them a puppy and also anxious. We bonded over this, as dog-people will, until she went all vegan on me. I had just laughed about puppy training, asserting I’d never adopt a puppy again. “There’s so many good middle-aged ones out there,” I added. Was this also a signal to the snide attitude coming at me from two eighth grade girls? No, I’m not that clever.

The shot was given and the pharmacy worker said, “Well, ours were rescues.” First of all: totally non-responsive. Did she think mine wasn’t? Why? And why would she assume I didn’t also want privacy? Second of all, there was that tone — you know the one — the superior sounding one employed by some to let you know that they don’t touch meat, cheese or processed foods.

She disappeared into the back again, toting her big red plastic needle disposal bin. With the hope that it would inconvenience her just a little, I laid my pill box and sporty headband on the table and walked out.

26 thoughts on “Anxious Dog, Bad Shopper

  1. Nancy

    I may leave something out of place, but my J. always returns to its proper home. However, I will add that if I am standing and considering items and there are things out of place, I am compelled to fix it. No the Dove goes here not with the Zest (do they still make that?) or whatever! I’ an organizer, everywhere but my own place it seems. My son and DIL are vegan, it is not easy for me, even if I am mostly vegetarian. They are far more committed to this way of life than just getting a salad when we go out! It is much harder for J. But, they are near you, so it doesn’t come up too much. I find I can be more tolerant of some issues/ways/people than others. Lately, it seems I’ve noticed so many in the “ME” lifestyle…like those who ZOOM up on your right and then cut into the left turn lane, while you patiently sit through many signals waiting your turn. People these days act as if they are more important, better than or ?
    Once when my children were young, we were at the Very Busy K-Mart for holiday photos. The poor gal working was so frenzied, probably short-staffed for the size of the crowd. After our turn, I went to the bath section and bought her a bottle of “Calgon” (remember those old commercials: Calgone take me away!). When we took it back to her, I told her I hope she could have a relaxing night after work…I still remember the look of appreciation on her face and it warms me 🙂 We’re all just walking each other home, right. None of this is to say that I don’t have my many moments of frustration at the world at large, people can be so annoying! Haha fickle Nancy 🙂

    1. deemallon Post author

      I DO remember Calgone bath products and weren’t they advertised to women as rewards for surviving a long, hard day? How sweet you were to do that! (I recently sent the police officer who tracked down my messenger bag an Amazon gift card — even though he was just doing his job). I know what you’re saying, though. Maybe the shot-giver’s mother just died. Maybe she was completely maxed out, doing the best she could. It wasn’t a fat-sizzling-in- the-fry-pan kind of irritation. More of a slow accretion of moments that made me look at myself differently.

      And BTW I absolutely applaud vegans. Think it’s healthier, etc. It’s just how some people lord it about. I’ve heard the same tone with Buddhist retreats and I’ve heard it before regarding rescue dogs. Given that the rescue-business had no particular relationship to the topic, it was more glaringly one of THOSE kind of announcements!

      1. Mo Crow

        I was the worst waitress in the world, I poured a whole bowl of soup on a man’s head when he got a bit too friendly and singed a woman’s lacquered hairdo sort of accidentally on purpose whilst presenting a bomb, she was behaving like a spoiled brat & so was I!

        1. Anonymous

          I can just see this. What a blast it’d’ve been to know you back in the day. In the Japanese tatami room where I worked, while kneeling to serve a customer I inadvertently tipped boiling hot teriyaki sauce Into his lap! Dry cleaning bills were the least of it!). (This is Dee. Damn phone!)

        2. Nancy

          HA! when I was a 20 yr old busboy (girl), I hastily tossed a plate I was clearing into the bottom tub on the cart. Problem was I kinda overshot, and the leftover peas flew out the other side and all over the feet of a not-too-happy man!

    1. deemallon Post author

      thanks, Maggie. we are having moments all the time, aren’t we. Hope the March in Phillie was great!!

  2. Michelle in NYC

    Every picture told me the story of one woman’s distressful encounters. Amazing that so much more happens when one is presented with interior thought. Well done. Imagine a cartoon story board and those thoughts in a bubble above the womans head. Delightful…It also occurs to me that the title of your blog is perfectly apt,

    1. Anonymous

      Thanks, Michelle. With your comment I am falling into the Amherst method of treating the piece as fiction. Thank you for that. I did mean to drill down or lay bare or something, a very ordinary 25 Minutes. Middle aged woman and her dog. (This is Dee)

  3. Hazel

    Ha! So enjoyed that, even if you didn’t! Well told! I leave things & straighten (especially at bookstores), depending on the mood, & used to take wigs off of mannequins & put them in more interesting places in the displays. Usually with you on the daughter thing. When we found out Moon was a boy, K. had a moment of wishing for a girl. I asked, “Do you want to live with me and a teenage girl?!” He quickly said, “NO!” I’d like an adult daughter, though!

    1. deemallon Post author

      I will straighten things in stores like HomeGoods, so yeah, the behavior is not uniform. And you’re right to point out that having an adult daughter is something to be envied. Especially if she talked.

        1. deemallon Post author

          Ha! And then there’s how even with a phone that can be told to remind them of anything, they need multiple texts from my husband to remember Mother’s Day and my birthday (for which I’m lucky to get a text)?

  4. saskia

    brilliant! even though I do actually walk back to drop off what I don’t want in it’s proper place (ocd-like) most of the time……I have been known to leave the unwanted stuff where ever…..this after ‘careful’ deliberations and the realisation I don’t need even more tasty teas/cheese/mugs/socks/etc, whilst at the same time not wanting to trudge back to where I found the stuff, especially in an Ikea-like store where I cannot even remember where exactly I picked the stuff up to begin with, hypnotized as I must have been into a state of ‘must-have’ consumerism, to wake up suddenly remembering my resolution to consume less, aghh (sometimes alas, this happens when I get home and unpack what I have bought, I never bring it back, it quickly moves on into someone else’s home)


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