Sunday, September 10, 2006

My, How Things Have Changed in Our Part o' Town

Little Miss is showing more of her sparkle today, and the finally allowed shower was very welcome to her, although she found a little adhesived sensor still attached to her tummy these few days since her surgery.

She's showing enough of her sparkle to make some requests, or orders, or "Mama, could you's...?" The latest one was for protein, specifically chicken, rotisseried chicken from the very specific supermarket that is further away than the others by a fair piece. I will admit, it is the best, and the free "side" the market gives with it motivated me to mosey on over there.

The Deli Guy who helped me was wearing his visor upside down, Lord knows why. But he smiled, was helpful, and gave me just a shade over a pound of the macaroni salad I asked for, so I made sure I used his name when I thanked him so he wouldn't feel like a replaceable part rather than a human being.

I was looking forward to going home to enjoy the chicken with Little Miss, self-interest being something I am rather good at. Now this market is in a neighborhood that has rapidly hispanicized, if that's a word, in recent years. There were some anglos like me shopping or working there. You sure could tell who they were, because they towered over the sea of black-crowned brown heads that filled the rather busy store. But mostly the place was full of shoppers of the Latin persuasion.

I was about to check out when I noticed that the shopper in line directly in front of me had just left her cart smack in the aisle, blocking me from putting my items on the check-out belt, indeed, blocking me from doing just about anything except pushing the cart ahead of me so I could make on it up to the counter.

So I pushed. Politely, calmly, and efficiently. The little black-haired, brown-skinned shopper in the too-small top and mini-skirt ahead of me picked up her bags and left without a glance behind to make sure her cart had made it through the line. I was tempted to grumble, but did not. Rudeness afflicts all races, and manners are in short supply, so I like to come down on the side of manners, even when provoked.

I did allow myself the luxury of a minor grumble to the checker, a tall, thin woman with graying blond hair. She pushed her eyeglasses up on her nose and said, in a confidential tone, after looking carefully both ways, "Happens all the time. They just leave the carts wherever, block the aisle, you name it."

She looked carefully both ways once again. "I used to work here more often than I do now, and I'm glad they don't assign me to this store very much. It used to be a nice, clean store, but in the last couple of years it's turned into a pit." She pulled a torn-open, half-eaten bag of cookies from under the counter. "Look at this! They just take what they want from the shelves and eat it while they stroll around and just dump whatever they can't finish. We get carts full of this kind of stuff every day."

There were two responses I might have made; in the end I made neither. I could have made nice about how poor folks sometimes don't have manners, but I've known poor folks whose tiny homes were so clean you could eat off the floor and who always managed to teach their youngun's to say "Yes, Ma'am" and "No, Ma'am". They just weren't this brand of poor folks.

On the other hand, I could have encouraged her to fully vent her frustration on the topic, but what good would it do to put more attention on her dissatisfaction? She has to work, and they're assigning her to work here, and there wasn't any way that I could see that making her focus on her misery would help her. So that response was out. Still, I felt right sorry for her.

All I could do was trot out my very best "poor girl" manners, born and bred in me by parents who didn't have much, but knew how to make the best of things and people both.

"Ma'am, I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. Hope they get better soon!" Then I handed her my cash, took my change, and very, very carefully pushed my cart right through the check-out lane, out to my car, and then into the designated cart gathering aisle.

Care for the little things sure makes life pleasant for more people.

And, yes, the chicken was good.