Or: Why Safeway Sucks And I Want Randall Onstead Back
I had to stop by Randall’s last night on my way home, as we were out of milk and spaghetti noodles (two things which go way too fast in a household with only two people…hmm). It was 6:30 and, inevitably, only three lanes were open for the dinnertime rush. I got into the “Express Lane,” which never does quite live up to its moniker.
The cashier must have been new. New or mentally-challenged. I’m not entirely sure. Either way, her consternation with the customer in front of me was hilarious.
Cashier (confusedly holding up a bag of tiny, pearlescent, orange fruit): How you call?
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: Ah, yes. Those are kumquats!
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: Yes, kumquats.
Cashier (visibly frustrated): Con-kwass???
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: Yes, kumquats. With a “k.” They’re a citrus fruit.
Cashier: Ehhhh….. How you say?
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: KUM-QUATS. K-U-M-Q-U-A-T-S. KUM-QUATS.
Cashier: I don’t know.
At this point, she sets them down and looks incredibly frustrated. She stares around for a bit, as if trying to remember what her training manual said in Chapter 8: When You Don’t Know What A Particular Fruit Or Vegetable Item Is, And How To Overcome This Predicament. Her memory must have been failing her.
Cashier: How much?
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: I believe with my Randall’s card they were $3.49 a pound.
Cashier: How much?
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: $3.49 a pound.
Cashier: Uh, okay. I no have code.
Here is where it got really good. Instead of calling a manager or fellow cashier for assistance, she proceeded to rip out the page from the produce code book in front of her and thrust it towards the kumquat man.
Cashier: Here. You find.
Jovial Middle-Aged Man (scanning the sheet): Ah, let’s see… K. Kumquats. Here they are. The code is 40439.
Cashier: Okay, give back.
As she enters the code enter her register, the kumquat man begins ruminating to her about his bag of fruit, which has now held the rest of us in the “Express Lane” for about ten minutes.
Jovial Middle-Aged Man: You know, kumquats are of the subgenus Fortunella in the Rutacaea family. They’re related to oranges and grapefruits. And they’re in the Sapindales order, which also makes them related to chestnuts! Would you believe that?
Cashier (staring at him blankly): Ehhhh….. You total $34.17.
These two people couldn’t have been a more perfect paradox:
Kumquat Man, the jolly, amateur botanist, eager to buy his fruits and share his wisdom with the world.
And Cashier Woman, hating her job and all of the Kumquat Men that came with it, and with absolutely no interest in learning English or checking people out at the grocery store, let alone learning about some fruit she’s never seen before and will hopefully never see again.