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Target Check-Out Line Jibba Jabba

Target Check-Out Line Jibba Jabba

At Target (the fourth trip this week, because every time I go, I seem to forget something), my cart is filled with the toddler-sized LunchablesTM that you can only get at Target, as well as six packs each of kids and adult sized wax earplugs. Mini wears them to keep water out of his tubed ears during bathtime, and I wear them–well, I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but let’s just say I’m a light sleeper.

We are stocking up.

Target occupies that vague no-man’s-domestic-consumer-land between the mundane one-item purchases of Vons and Pavillions and the 12-pack of paper towels and four-box sets of Ziplocs at Costco. This is where you get the best deal on Horizon Organic Milk, but you have to watch the expiration dates more carefully than elsewhere. This is a great place to buy South Beach Diet Bars by the box, at about half the price as elsewhere, but there is no produce to speak of and there is no meat section.

Oh! what I wouldn’t do for one store that carried everything I need at a reasonable price! But no, my fate is to carry around in my head an ever-expanding database of items, prices, and relative ease of purchase. When I pick up a can of Tinactin foot spray, I do not just pick up a can of Tinactin foot spray, I pick up the item with availability at both Target and Pavillions, no longer available at Costco, retailing for $7.89 at Pavillions, which is located less than a mile from home, versus $5.24 at Target, located 1.2 miles from home, factoring in gas costs (lowest at Arco, located .25 miles from home), best purchase is made at . . . TARGET.

Did my parents know that one day this would be how I would put my superior-but-not-quite-gifted intellect to use? I doubt it. But no doubt they’re bursting with pride and joy.

Today, I am eavesdropping, as is my habit, because you never know what you might hear in the line at Target. I mean, sure, it’s not likely to be intellectually stimulating. But there’s a better than average chance that it will be interesting. Like the time I had Mini with me, and he was sitting in the shopping cart, nestled comfortably in his hygenic shopping cart cover and eating Gerber Graduates cheesy poofs, which I have been known to use as a bribe to keep him quiet whilst traveling the aisles at various shopping establishments. Or, you know, to get him to shut his trap during his post-nap “why are you persecuting me so?” phase. &c.

And the girls behind me–I call them girls not to demean them but because they were that, teenagers, the days where they would need to resort to junk food bribing hopefully way in the future–took the waiting time as an opportunity to critique the nutritional choices of a parent they did not know. That parent–me–was within earshot, but this didn’t seem to concern them, or perhaps even occur to them, and so they juxtaposed their own upbringing with the upbringing my son is getting.

We never got to eat Cheetos.”
“We never had anything like that either.”
“Yeah. And remember how everyone had Lunchables?”
“Not me! Never. My mom always wanted us to eat healthy.”
“Mine too! Sometimes on Halloween we got candy . . . “

Can I tell you that it is peculiar, and a little disheartening, to hear an “In my day, we had to walk sixteen miles barefoot” kind of story out of a sixteen-year-old’s mouth. But the good news is that, as it turns out, it is equally obnoxious whether it is coming from someone young or old. It is an all-inclusive fuckwatt move, and does not discriminate whether the person doing it has more experience or less experience than you do.

Today the eavesdropping has taken a turn for the surreal. The Target checker is participating in the chatter in a manner to which I’m unaccustomed.

“These are the ones they make drugs out of,” he tells the woman in front of me in line, pointing to a stack of cold medicine. I am pretty sure he is wrong, because he is pointing at a stack of Contac Cold & Sinus, which is sold on the regular old shelves, not even “over the counter” over the counter, like they do with the few products that still contain pseudoephedrine that are still on the market. Apparently, my fellow Target consumer is not so well-versed in the goings on of the tweaker underground, however, because she looks scandalized, in a No-Tell-Me-More-No-Don’t-No-Do kind of way.

She says something I cannot hear. And then he says something I cannot hear. And then he nods, knowingly.

And instead of just being like, “Who cares?” or “What a bunch of dorks!” I get annoyed, because I cannot hear them, and more to the point, because the checker clearly has no idea how crystal methamphetamine is manufactured, and yet he would have this random customer believe that he did. Because he is trying to convince her that the cold medicine she is buying is like a heartbeat away from being an illicit trailer park amphetamine, which A) it’s not, and also? WTF? Is this some form of courtship with which I’m unfamiliar? Why would somebody want to pose as somebody who knows how to make drugs? To a stranger in Target? What is his backstory, I wonder? Because he seems to want to imply that it involves drugs, but clearly it does not. Then again, something is wrong. But what?

After what seems like an eternity, the woman carts off with her drug contraband and Tweakerwannabe starts ringing up all of my assorted items. Around the same time I become conscious of the overly impatient woman behind me. She is in a hurry, and making a show of it. Initially, I resist the urge to make up a generalization about her based on the fact that she is wearing scrubs, and probably considers herself terribly important. Then I notice she has lined up her order on the belt behind mine, and it consists of a pack of Always and a box of Midol. I could not have staged it better if I were Tom Robbins. Or Freud. Or Tom Leykis.

So I opt for the misogynistic reading, and try to ignore the aura of impatience that is coming from her generalized direction, because Tweekerwannabe has moved onto me now, and has made note of the fifteen hundred packages of lunchables I’m buying.

“You just want a little bite to eat?” he asks.

“They are the perfect size for toddlers,” I explain, annoyed with myself for even bothering to explain.

“Are you a toddler?” And I think, wow. I’ve wandered into that Saturday Night Live skit, haven’t I? I point at Mini, who is eating his cheesy poofs, oblivious to the insanity that is swirling around him.

“Today, all of the customers are so nice,” he gushes. “And the employees are assholes.”

I smile, unsure what to say, not wanting to set him off. Impatient woman sighs again.

“Usually it is the opposite–the customers are assholes, and the employees are nice,” he goes on.

This really pisses off Impatient Woman. I wonder if she works in Target’s PR Department or something.

“I’m not supposed to say that, but it’s true.” And then he starts laughing. And I smile, uncomfortably but amicably, because that’s what I do. Impatient woman sighs again, loudly, and shifts her weight. It is tiring being so important. Finally, he finishes I am able to gather my things and go.

“Nice rock,” he says, as I’m gathering my change. I look at him, then at Mini, and Mini says, “Ah Gah?” pointing to his cheesy poofs. And I say, “That’s right, Mini, all gone. Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Comments (11)

  1. Nov 27, 2008

    I kinda feel overly impatient woman’s pain (although I feel your pain more – I’m loyal), and your checkout twink sounds AWFUL. I had a checkout guy ask me once, “Did your kid fart? Something smells bad.” It was ME. Asshole.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Nov 27, 2008

    I hate checkout people that feel the need to chat. Especially about what you’re buying. Shouldn’t they have to sign some kind of confidentiality agreement?

    Keely´s last blog post..In which I alienate a lot of people

  3. Nov 27, 2008

    Perhaps because I live in a very small town and when the checkers talk, it is always shit talk about the other checkers, I freakin’ love it.

    I had Impatient Lady behind me a few days ago, but her impatience was directed to my pile of coupons. I was like, “Suck it, lady, I want my super cheap or free shit.”

    shonda´s last blog post..Well, You Didn’t Tell Me Not to Take the Kids To Beheadings

  4. Nov 27, 2008

    I LOVE buying condoms and and buckets of KY jelly and taking it through our local ‘Chatty Cathy’s’ line. Seems to shut her up every time, heh.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    goodfather´s last blog post..Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Nov 27, 2008

    If it’s the WeHo Target, I used to live within walking distance! That whole little mall is a good place for minor-celebrity spotting. And the checkers I found to be a really strange bunch, bad boundaries, and the security guards would always flirt in a creepy way.
    Happy Thanksgiving! Your post gave me a laugh I really needed today.

    J.´s last blog post..Right Now

  6. Nov 27, 2008

    fuckwatt. LMAO. he sounds like a fuckwatt.

    happy turkey day.

  7. AKD
    Nov 27, 2008

    I’m always trying to imitate that SNL Target skit at work (“Approved!”) but apparently no one watches that show anymore. Do you? Since Amy Poehler left it’s really gotten weird.

  8. Nov 27, 2008

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    @AKD, I sometimes watch it. It was great before the election, but yeah, it’s not so great anymore. Although I watched that M. Night Shamalyayn (or whatever the hell his name is) movie the other day, The Happening, with Mark Wahlberg. And all of a sudden the whole Mark Wahlberg skit was like ten times as funny. Because he always talks like that, but in this movie it came off almost like a parody.

    I never really got the Target skit, until this experience, and then I thought, it’s just something that somebody on the writing staff must have experienced and thought was funny. Weird.

  9. Nov 28, 2008

    That’s awesome. If I eavesdropping were an olympic sport I’m sure we’d both medal.

    crazylovescompany´s last blog post..Table talk and week 39

  10. PabloGuero
    Nov 30, 2008

    Holy crap! You just wrote our generation’s A&P (http://www.tiger-town.com/whatnot/updike/). I always hated John Updike, but this I can relate to. (Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition and I don’t care.) I’m not kidding.

  11. Dec 9, 2008

    But what’s so lovely about Target is that you rarely have to deal with other human beings, unlike Wal-Mart, where they are always standing in the middle of the aisle with their carts, gawping bovinely at the shelves to see how many cans of green beans they can afford, or placing giant pallets of green beans in such a way that no cart can get through and looking astonished, annoyed, and confused when you say, “Excuse me,” to them. Wal-Mart is the portal to hell.

    On the other hand, Target is always pristine, seemingly without human intervention, and if you require assistance, all you need do is press a button and a person who can actually help you appears. The merchandise is all so fabulous and unique and affordable. I love Target so fucking much, even if I can never get out of there without spending less than $100, mostly on stuff I never knew I needed until I set foot in the store. And they are open until 11:00 at night now for the holidays. I went there the other night by myself for about 2 hours after the children and husband were put to bed and just rolled around and rubbed Target all over me. It was fucking fantastic. And I hardly had to lay eyes on other person until the checkout line. I went back twice after that last week.

    Souther’ Mother´s last blog post..Prepartum Blues

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