Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Had to share this one with you folks …

I was in the K-Mart at Jantzen Beach a few days ago. (I was looking for a pair of slip-on canvas deck shoes and happened to be there. Found a pair, too, for $19.95 … marked down to $1.50!)

So there are 20 cash registers and exactly ONE is open. K-Mart, like most big retailers, has this thing for “point-of-sale,” which means the way to the registers is lined with hundreds of notional items: batteries, razors, candy, etc. It makes about a 6-foot cattle chute hardly wide enough to turn around in.

At the register is a woman with a K-Mart Sunday Sale tip-in from the newspaper. She and the clerk are poring over it, trying to get the prices right. “Woulda swore them gizmos was $1.79.” “Nope, sez right here, they is $1.87.” And on and on and on and on …

Behind them was an elderly lady getting more steamed by the second. Behind HER were three more people packed into the chute (I was one of them) and behind US were six more people, all of us waiting with that beaten-down posture and a bovine look on our faces, the look you get when you know you’re going to waste at least another fifteen minutes here and there’s not a DAMN THING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

Well, the lady began to shout. “HELP! HELP!” (I swear to God.) “I’VE BEEN HERE TWENTY MINUTES AND I CAN’T GET OUT! HELP!”

Everybody behind her broke out in these HUGE, shit-eating grins, and the clerk suddenly couldn’t get the previous customer checked out fast enough. We all ZIPPED through the line, actually TALKING to each other about what a great thing the lady had done and how we all had wanted to do exactly the same thing so many times before.

And wishing we’d thanked her.

March 27, 2000
Sauvie Island, OR