"How much?"

A black man in a wheelchair came rolling down the sidewalk toward me. In his lap, a boombox was blasting an old Rolling Stones tape, but the man had no legs, so he couldn't tap his toes to the beat.

"Hey, dude," I shouted over the music as he approached, "you're rockin' and you're rollin'!" He didn't smile. He must've heard that joke before.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I was on my way to a store for a loaf of bread and two tins of tuna, but it wasn't the store I wanted to go to. Usually I'd walk five blocks to Walgreens or ride a bus to Safeway, but today I was low-energy, so instead I went to the kinda shady, half-stocked, overpriced, surly-staffed mom & pop store down the street. I rarely shop there, and soon remembered why.

Some of the merchandise has price tags, but some doesn't. The noodle soup doesn't. At some stores it's as cheap as four for a dollar, at other stores it's as high as 89¢ each, and I wanted to stock up but only had ten bucks. Already I was holding four cans of tuna priced astronomically.

Damn, I hate having to ask how much something costs. Prices should be marked, required by law. When they're not marked, I always think they'll make up a price based on how well you're dressed. I was dressed shitty, of course, and feeling rude and rowdy, so I walked to the register, gently slammed the noodles on the counter, and said, "There's no price. How much?"

"$1.09," said the guy behind the counter. 

"What a fuckin' rip," I said, and put the noodles back on the shelf. Noodles made of gold, I guess. No impulse shopping at that store.

Back to the original plan — I'd buy the bread and tuna and that's all. Only the fancy bread had prices, though, and I am not paying $2.29 for a damned loaf of bread. Grabbed an un-priced generic loaf that would cost 69¢ at Walgreens, took it to the front and slammed it against the counter hard enough to blow over a stack of Twinkies. "How much?" I asked, almost shouted.

"A hundred and twenty dollars," the clerk shouted back at me.

It melted my anger and made me laugh. I almost apologized to the guy, but he decided I was crazy when I laughed, and ordered me out of the store.

Ah, well. I'm still out of bread and tuna, but I made a new enemy and that's priceless. Chuckled all the way home, and I'll go to Walgreens tomorrow.

From Pathetic Life #18
Tuesday, November 7, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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