It may be that the grocery store clerks who work the closing shift know us best as human beings.
9:38 on a Monday night and all I want is a Chelada and a frozen pizza.
Usually, when I’m driving home this late, I’ll opt to stop by the gas station for a snack. The woman working behind the counter passes no judgement. She is obsessed with the fact that one time when I came in, this guy stood behind me, kind of leering at me, except I couldn’t see him. I thought I heard him mumble something like “Well, you sure are sunny…” Anyway, he was creepy, and I left. And ever since then, whenever I come in, she tells me how she told him off right after I left.
“I said, ‘that is no way to treat a woman!’ I said, ‘You are going to have to leave this store right now.’ And he sort of just shuffled off. I may be short, but men know to fear me. I once knocked a man to the ground that tried to grab my ass at a bar. They called the police and when they showed up, they just could not believe that I had knocked him out cold, and then they said, ‘Honey, I’m sure he deserved whatever was coming to him.'”
I smile politely and inch towards the door. Each time, the story of her getting in a fight with a guy is slightly different, and I wonder if these are different permutations of the same story, or several different altercations that happened over time.
Tonight, I decide to go to the grocery store across the parking lot from the gas station. I remember that they have just started stocking Easy Mac and decide to pick some up for lunch.
Easy Mac, Chelada, frozen pizza…
Over the intercom: “This store will close in 20 minutes. Please take your purchases to the register”
I stop by the display of fresh flowers. There are bunches that contain six carnations, either all lavender or all violet. Something about the purple carnations gets me, and I through a lavender bunch into my neon green reusable grocery bag. A small jalapeño and cheese focaccia checks my eye and I walk towards the check out stand and I grab it as well.
The woman ahead of me in line has a six pack of beer and is in a hurry. I try to imagine where she could be rushing off to with six beers at 10 PM on a Monday night. In all my imagined scenarios, NASCAR is somehow involved.
The young male check out clerk is agreeing with her that, yes, it does feel like a Monday.
“Everyone’s so tired, right?”
“The Mondays after a holiday are always the hardest,” I offer. “Because on Thursday, we were all happy and full of turkey and had nothing to do.”
“Turkey and lots of wine,” says the clerk, knowingly.
“We had a lot of tequila!” Six pack woman pipes in.
“What if they did turkey and tequila pairings? TNT, baby!”
They both laugh at my antics. Six pack exits the building and check out clerk says that what he really wanted at Thanksgiving was scotch.
“I could go for some Glenlivet right now, with a little bit of amaretto floated on top.”
“Careful, you’re tempting me to go back to the liquor section!”
And I am a florescent green reusable grocery bag, wagging off into the night.