Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Meijer and the deli counter crowd

you see, I don't go to Meijer at the same time on the same day of the week. I'm there at all different times, different days of the week. so, I'm always amazed that no matter when I go, there is always a deli counter crowd.

when I grocery shop, I am there to get in and get out. it's almost like a sporting event for me, how fast can I maneuver the obstacles in the aisle? the motorized cart people, the "I'll park my cart in the middle of the aisle" people, the "I'll park my cart on one side of the aisle then position my body on the other side of the aisle and search and search till my heart's content blocking the entire aisle" people.

I'm good at these obstacles, I'm almost brazen you could say. I'm not afraid of moving unattended carts, I have no qualms about squealing cutely, "excuse me!" I can even huff a convincing "honk" when the motorized cart crowd mistakes the forward button for the reverse button. but, my olympiad dreams are dashed when I screech up to the deli counter.

it never fails. there will be five, six, sometimes even seven people waiting at the deli counter each of them obediently holding their take-a-number slip of paper. they hopefully even trustingly look from their paper to the "now serving" sign patiently waiting for their magic number to appear. meanwhile, the Meijer deli staff, perhaps two or three, are diligently shaving the Boar's head or polishing the slicer, backs turned to the silent waiting deli counter crowd. it's like a pathetic lottery, each ticket holder thinking, "maybe today I'll get that Healthy Choice roasted chicken, one pound for $3.99. oooohh, just one pound!"

yep, you guessed it, then I hit the scene. I like to play by the rules, initially. I always go up take my number, peruse the goods behind the curved plasti-glass, then after a moment, I begin. I turn to my right catch the eye of the woman with the next number and ask her in a strong voice, "have you been helped?" this question has a strange effect, some people feel a type of reverence for the deli counter and will whisper a "no", or sometimes just shake their head, almost in shame. other members of the crowd, will be sarcastic, but still quiet, "I wish" is a typical response. after I have determined that the status quo is in effect, I get louder, "we need some help over here!"

suddenly, the deli staff remember that they are indeed at work and start shouting out "now serving numbers" to the wide-eyed, expectant crowd. pleased that I have once again kept the wheels of capitalism turning, I step back and smile when satisfied customers give me a nod and a wink.

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