Just in time for the holidays — shopping malls are packed and the endless lineups are soul-sucking — you might start to push, just to try to hurry things along, but Don’t Mess With Little Old Ladies.
“Goddammit,” the man in the lineup in front of me glanced at his watch. “Can’t they move any faster?”
“You’d think they’d bring in some extra bodies for the holidays,” a woman beside him replied. “Any slower and we’d all be dead.”
A rumble of tin cans rattled down the lineup as an elderly lady loaded her shopping onto the conveyor belt. “Now wait –” she reached out, turning cans around to read the labels, “I’ve got six of this kind –”
Beeping from the cash register as the cashier scanned the half-dozen tins of tomato soup.
“And I’ve got four cream of broccoli –”
The cashier nodded and kept scanning.
“It’s not on sale, you know, but I have a coupon – oh, and don’t forget my chicken noodle –”
More beeping from the cash register.
“Hey, I’m in a hurry – anyway we can move this along?” the man in front of me called out.
“I’m afraid not,” the cashier chirped, and bent back over the cash register. “Oh wait – I’ll have to call for a code. You said you had a coupon?”
“Oh yes, here, let me get it – somewhere in my purse.” The lady opened an enormous handbag, and peered into its depths. “Well, at least I have my spectacles,” she smiled at she pulled out a pair of eye glasses and slid them on. “Now – where is it?” She stared into the bag again, moving things around.
The sound of papers rustling and metal clinking – probably her keys, I thought.
“For crissakes can you move it along lady?” the man in front of me yelled. “I don’t have all day.”
Suddenly the lady stood up, and held out an enormous lump of metal. I blinked, it was a revolver, and she held it steady, aiming at the man in front of me. Shoppers gasped, startled, and scurried away; everybody took cover. The cashier dropped to the floor behind the conveyor belt, while I ducked down beside a magazine rack.
The man wavered, his face ashen.
She stared at him over that gun, her eyes oversized through her reading glasses. “Now listen to me, sonny – you’re rude and impertinent. You’ll wait your turn, just like everybody else. Got it?”
The man nodded.
“Fine then. Let’s carry on.” Sliding the gun back into her purse, she smiled at the cashier. “How much did you say that was, now dear?”
“Uh,” the cashier climbed back up from behind the conveyor belt and glanced at the register. “That’ll be fourteen oh seven.”
The entire store was silent as the lady rooted through her wallet, and pulled out a ten dollar bill, followed by the soft clink of coins sliding together. The lady looked up and smiled, “Here, I hope you don’t mind change – I’ve got a big handful, it weighs everything down.”
The cashier nodded dumbly.
Slowly, she started to count coins into the cashier’s outstretched hand. “That’s twenty-five, fifty, seventy five – oh wait, that one’s a nickel…”
ALL WORK COPYRIGHT Liz McAdams (2016)
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