Monday, March 10, 2014

Ten Items Or Less

So, how was your weekend? Let me tell you how mine started.

Last weekend I spent four hours in a room with about a hundred kids. As should be expected, therefore, I became sick last week.

It didn't happen right away, of course. A mild cough and a minor headache was all it was, and I was hoping my immune system and a barrel of Purell would help stave off any issues. But, sadly, the trajectory of sickness did not look promising, and I knew that both my wife and I were in for a long weekend. So I decided to stop at the closest Wal-Mart after work to stock up on supplies, hopefully so we wouldn't have to leave the house unless absolutely necessary.

So I ran into the department store to purchase, among other things, some two liters of soda pop. We've been trying to save money (while conveniently maintaining my addition to caffeine) so I've been trying to find deals on pop. While I am generally a Pepsi person, Coke somehow manages to do cherry right, so getting Cherry Coke Zero is an occasional treat. Sadly, it's not offered everywhere, so it's not often that I am able to find it.

Well, suffice it to say that not only did Wal Mart have Cherry Coke Zero, but it was on sale for the princely sum of a dollar a bottle. A dollar! Well, this was clearly the functional equivalent of winning the Powerball, so I loaded up my cart with four bottles of the stuff--four being the practical limit for me to carry in one trip, since only cowards and charlatans make more than one trip when carrying in groceries--stocking up for what would no doubt be a long weekend of thrills and excitement hopped up on knockoff Sudafed.

With this newfound purchase, I was King of the Cranberry Township Wal-Mart. I walked up and down the rows of merchandise with a steely reserve, cocky in the knowledge that I had not only found what I was looking for, but had done so at a fraction of the expected cost. My abbreviated shopping list was completed with haste; I looked fellow shoppers dead in the eye with the implicit statement of "Yeah, I'm buying a box of pink Kleenex. What's it to you?" Aisles parted ways as I finished my purchases; stockmen and cashiers became mute with awe as I approached. Never before and never again will they see one such as I.  I am Ozymandias, King of Kings; look upon my discount carbonated beverage purchase, and beware.

I didn't have much in my cart, so I swaggered on up to the speedy checkout line--but both she and I knew I could have had a hundred items in my cart and no one would have to say a thing. I placed my sundries on the counter: a little Alka Seltzer, a box of crackers, the usual mundanes. Some lady was cashing her paycheck in front of me so she didn't have any products, but the cashier had to sacrifice some goats to actually complete the transaction, so it was taking a while. And then, finally, at long last, I started loading my bountiful treasure: one by one, I placed the two liters on the counter.

With the final bottle in my hand, I placed it on the counter. It tipped over.

It didn't hit the floor; I was astute enough to catch it. But, unfortunately, apparently however I caught it caused a small tear to form in the plastic.

Anyone who has done this before knows exactly what happened next.

Two liters are, of course, pressurized, so when that small tear appeared a stream of Cherry Coke Zero started spraying out of it like a loose fire hose, a sort of poetic disaster one could find in the lost lyrics of Big Rock Candy Mountain. And when I say that it sprayed out, I mean a high-pressure spray of sticky, carbonated liquid started to erupt everywhere. EVERYWHERE. On me, on the lady in front of me, on the sign ten feet above us, on the checkout counter two rows over. I managed to divert the spray to the floor, but even the few precious seconds before I had a chance to do so it was able to coat the entire checkout area with alarming efficiency.

I would like to say that people sat there in stunned, sympathetic silence while I stood there helplessly embarrassed, and then some kingly workers helped me clean up. However, that's not what happened.

First off, some younger guy in a wheelchair started shouting "Makin' it rain! Makin' it rain! HAHAHAHAHA." ensuring that he knew--he just knew--that had he not been in a wheelchair before he did that, he would have been afterwards.

And then the woman in front of me gave me the stinkeye, like I was sent my her ex-husband to do this on purpose. I mean, I get it, some random stranger just forced a high-pressure shower of Coke on her, but I know what the check-cashing limit is on paychecks at Wal-Mart checkout lanes. Don't even act like this is the first time you've been coated with a sticky film of  gross pop.

So there I was, standing there, covered head to toe in Cherry Coke Zero, almost like a sort of redneck version of Carrie. Not only was this an embarrassment in and of itself, but I then had to go through the indignity of moving all my stuff to another register, wipe down my items as I placed them on the counter, and still check out (one item less, of course). I then had to slowly walk out of the store, head drooped down, minor chord jazz music playing in the background, as I made the walk of shame back to my car.

And that is how my weekend started. How about you? 


  1. That story is awesome. I'm going to steal it and use it for one of my "five interesting things about you" if I'm on Jeopardy! (the exclamation point is part of the show name, not an indication of how excited I am to steal your story, although I am pretty psyched about it).

  2. Go ahead. I have my "once got pissed on my a tiger in a cage in the middle of a shopping mall" story to fall back on. True story.