Thursday, July 24, 2008

People With Chaotic Lives and Starbucks Nation

A couple of posts ago, I mentioned "Checkout Line Rage," which is something that I apparently experience more frequently than most shoppers. Today at Roche Brothers in M., there checked out a woman so pathetic that my rage turned to sympathy. Well, kinda sorta.

We picked the shortest line, not noticing the the woman in front of us who was almost thru the line was on her cell phone. This appeared to be a super-important, life-changing, earth-shaking call, and when in the dim recesses of her brain she realized the whole process of checking out had halted because she had to, like, pay for the groceries, she went into high gear on the phone call, "I'm caught in a storm, yada yada, can I call you back, no leave a message for me, yada yada, ad infinitum.

Storm, my foot. It was just raining hard. We were all wet.

Damp and disheveled we stood, the clerk stood, the bagger stood, the woman stood. Finally she hung up and in a flurry (with this woman everything must be a flurry) of apologies wrote a check, dug out her Roche Bros. card, picked another card, yada yada, asked for $20 cash, and all the while I gazed at her handbag, a large, but not large enough affair, with money, a hair brush, a wallet so thick with cards that she must shop everywhere in Boston, a cell phone holder, natch, but of course the cell was jammed into the handbag, far from its holder. Wouldn't you know?

Then came another mysterious transaction, because somehow she had written the check for the wrong amount. Whatever. She needed to dig money out of the bowels of the handbag (not the visible money) and finally, finally, she was off to the parking lot. Hope she found her car keys. Wouldn't bet on it.

Meanwhile, I have gone from check-out-rage to extreme interest. Bleached blond with lots of roots, 40 pounds overweight, breathless, $25.00 worth of cigarette on the bill (which in Massachusetts is only three packs), living in total chaos.

I thought for half a second of offering to be her personal organizer. She obviously needed one. Badly. I mean, who makes a very life-changing telephone call in the check out line? Do you? I hope not. Do I?

I never use my cell in the store. What would I say? "I'm standing in the produce section." Or maybe, "do we have any scallions left in the fridge?" No, I make out my (computerized) list and check everything before I leave. Compulsive. Obsessive. Anal. Do not hold up lines pissing people off for ten minutes.

Then there is the other extreme. No not Grapeshot. The Wall Street Journal today had an article about custom built McMansions, or how the other 1% lives. Some people are really organized. A quilting room? I can just see the specialized storage cabinets for the fabric, a big narrow bin for the quilting hoop. Maybe a foldaway table. Likeway, sewing machine. A special thread case, so every color is evident. A place for everything.

And then there was the underwater sound system for the swimming pool. Who even has time to think these things up?

Our culture has become weird. Below is a link to a "Starbucks" post that tells more about the way we live.
A side note: We were in Berlin on a cold drizzly November day craving a cup of coffee, and found a Starbucks. Big line outside, no seating, natch, inside. Walked down the street and found a Dunkin' Donuts. No line, plenty of chairs, good coffee, even donuts. They had some local flavors you would never find here, like filled with plum jam. There did not seem to be any local coffee places like Tschibo in this neighborhood.

Read this.


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