I Know. I Should Swear Less Around the Children.

Once upon a time there was this grocery store clerk. She yakked at me one day, one very bad day 6 months ago, about having a third child. She told me her sons had been stolen by her daughters-in-law and that she was ever so grateful for her daughter because her daughter would never leave.

She has not really spoken to me since, not in so much detail, but has said hello and once or twice chatted with the boys about hockey or thieving girlfriends or whatever. But today. Another bad-ish day. She totally turned my frown upside down because nothing makes me happier than being able to refer to someone as “batshit crazy; as crazy as the shit of bats” as I walk down the street.

No really. That makes me happy.

I had my grocery items. I was checking through the self-check out, Fresco was eating a cracker in the back seat of the buggy and Trombone was drawing things in his “handy dandy notebook” with a marker.

– Trombone has started pretending his life is a giant “Blue’s Clues” episode, which involves hollering, “MOMMY THERE’S A CLUE ON THAT TREE!” from the back seat of the car or front seat of the buggy and then spending 15 minutes in relative silence while he attempts to draw the tree in his notebook. Had I not spent 5 years up in a tree pretending I was Harriet the Spy I might be concerned about this. Nah, who am I kidding. –

I was slightly aware of the Batshit Crazy self-check-out clerk talking to him but I wasn’t paying attention. Then, as I put the groceries in the underbuggy, I noticed he had coloured the back of his left hand with his orange marker, which explained the preceding 10 minutes of silence. (Which silence was totally worth it, by the way.) The clerk had kindly given him a piece of paper to draw on so I felt obliged to thank her and then ask him,

“Dude. Where’s your notebook?
“Over here,” he replied, patting his pocket, “but I’m drawing on my hand now.”

And here you will see a huge Shrug from me. I used to draw on myself with ballpoint pens and sometimes Sharpies. And I turned out fi – oh, wait.

“Oh but paper is better!” said the clerk, chirpily. “Isn’t paper better?”
Trombone cocked his head to look her in the eye. “Well actually this is a washable marker,” he explained, “so it’s OK.”

Right. See also: younger brother with orange, tattoo-like markings on his forehead, arms and feet because someone, I’m not saying who, keeps forgetting that the second child likes to wreck shit and cannot be left alone with markers.

See also: me not caring one whit because I choose my battles carefully. Fresco does many things in a day that endanger his life. Self-tattooing *with markers* is way down on the list with “eating Twizzlers.” (Now if he ever picks up an actual needle and starts asking to watch LA Ink, I’ll step in.)

“Well,” said our friend, guardian of the self-check out and those who pass through it, “your skin is an organ. It has to work hard to get rid of all that ink…”

We all nodded politely and gave not one single good goddamn between the three of us.

“..so maybe it would be better to put, you know, dots on your hand. Instead of colouring it in like that.”

I straightened up and slung my bag of groceries over my shoulder. Put the smile on my face that means goodbye to you and I will be ordering my groceries for delivery from now on. Prepared to push the buggy away.

And then! She said to me, “Did you take medical terminology?”
I said, “Pardon?”
She said, “In your classes? It’s fascinating!”
I said, “No I took mainly political science classes.”
She said, “Oh.” She gave me a dirty look. Like she knew I was being snotty but since I am the customer, etc. she would let it go.

No, lady, really, I have NO idea what you’re talking about. Do I look like someone who takes medical terminology classes? Does that have anything to do with washable markers? Are you HIGH?

I said, “OK well have a nice day now.”
She said, “Mmm hmm.” Went to help someone else.

So my question to you is: why has no one told me about these classes I can take! The skin is an ORGAN!

And also: did she maybe think I was a nanny? Do nannies take medical terminology courses?
And also: did she think I was someone else entirely?
And also: do you think the self-check-out machines emit dangerous waves that affect your head? There was a woman at work who kept trying to stop me to photocopy things when I was pregnant. Ah but that’s another story altogether.

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15 Responses to I Know. I Should Swear Less Around the Children.

  1. kyooty says:

    She may have been sniffing too much antibacterial or register ink?

  2. MonkeyPants says:

    Wait, you took Poli Sci classes? That’s why I never saw you in History of Costume, Scene Painting, or Medieval Architecture. I have to say, those classes have served me well, but maybe not as well as Medical Terminology would have. But I’m your girl for bliauts, dry-brush technique, or clerestories.

    • cheesefairy says:

      But did you know the skin is an organ? Did your “classes” teach you that? I didn’t THINK so.

  3. Beth says:

    I also didn’t learn the medical terminology and my children survived childhood.
    Besides which, I write on my hand all the time. I write notes on paper, I promptly lose the paper. I have yet to lose my hand and I have a regular reminder of the important information until I wash my hands several times.
    I feel kind of sorry for the bat-shit crazy lady. She seems to push people away – hmmm, maybe she should look at herself rather than the daughters-in-law for the reason she lost her sons.

    • cheesefairy says:

      I feel sorry for her too. But she always catches me on my least sympathetic days, when I would sell the children for a chocolate bar, which works against her.

  4. Probably thought you were someone else. That’s my guess.

    Oh, and I’m a big fan of answers that trouble the asker:

    “Did you take medical terminology?”
    “Talking about my tr… tr… (foot-stomp) training gives to us the heee-aaaaaddddd aaaaaaches.” {pained grimace, white-knuckled fist to side of head} “I’mJustShoppingSheDoesn’tKnowAboutTheSystems…”

    There’s an ad that was on a few months ago, and there was a Stepford Wife hair-helmet lady on it, and she did this great head-twist thing, and had a line that went something like “If I don’t get it, it makes me go all (head twist) you-know…”

    Maybe try that next time.

    Or maybe the Monty Python “We’ve got lumps of it ’round the back” and an slightly evil laugh. Works wonders.

  5. Or just lean in a little and whisper

    “Authenticate Four-One-Niner, Incline Recumbant”
    “Failed. Recording….”
    “What did you say?”
    “Close connection 550 – refused”

    Works for mail servers, why not people?

    • cheesefairy says:

      Excellent! Maybe just a t-shirt that says “Close connection 550 – refused.” That’s probably already for sale at thinkgeek though.

  6. miranda says:

    what is it with the people who work at the grocery store check-out (full disclosure – my husband had that heinous job, at superstore of all the deepest circles of hell, when he was in uni)? it’s like they have to fill out a form, memorize produce codes AND prove to have absolutely no ability to talk/take a joke/not squish peaches.

    medical terminogoogly classes would have so taught you exactly what her problem would be called. i’m no doctor, but perhaps batshit crazy is the same as clinically asswipey.

  7. Q: “Did you take medical terminology?”

    A1: “Take it? There’s stuff in there NAMED after me!”
    A2: “Yes, but I still can’t put my finger on what’s wrong with you, in particular.”
    A3: “I don’t think so, but after the North American Mindwipe in 97, who KNOWS, right? Right? Huh? High-five!?”

    • Arwen says:

      I pretty much like any answer that ends in a high-five.

      • cheesefairy says:

        In fact, next time I can’t think of a pithy ending to something I am going to write High Five! and be done with it. I will definitely credit mr. gecko when I do.

  8. eva says:

    That is some hilarious writing right there. You made me grin. Now I can take my organ to bed.

    Next time I need a smile I will go buy groceries in New West!

    • cheesefairy says:

      You know, it seems like a long way but it’s worth it if you consider the entertainment value. And: thanks.