Going Old Before My Time

I've been foreshadowing my future self, and that man acts old. Since I've known my wife, she's never enjoyed my tendency to holler out of a moving vehicle at people with advice. While she buries her face in her hands, I dole out my criticism to other drivers running red lights. I've even yelled, "Watch Ceasar Milan," to a pedestrian getting pulled by her dog along the sidewalk. I'm pretty sure it's an "old man" type of thing to holler at strangers about lightweight issues and perceived slights, but I'm only 32 years old. Apparently my "oldness" doesn't end there.

My second job ever was manning the checkout lanes at K-Mart, and it was my first experience interacting with the public at large. One of my first observations was the old guys would presume familiarity with me by making comments in line. An old fella with a Members Only jacket and a fishing cap would saddle up to buy one Chap Stic and then ask me if I noticed the humidity sharper that day than the one before. I was 16.

Forrest was checking my groceries recently at my neighborhood grocery store. As I started noticing the weight of my body on the soles of my feet, it occurred to me that Forrest ran about as slow a checkout stand as I've ever seen. Forrest is a high-schooler who seems to be a very nice person, even making eye contact with customers from time to time. Forrest handed me a pen to sign my receipt after a lengthy search of his aisle stand. I noticed it was a red Fred Meyer pen. Every time I've been handed this kind of pen for the past 6 months, the tip drags across the papers without ink and the grocery clerk invariably has to search for a working pen. Now, I can recall at least two lighthearted conversations I've had with different Fred Meyer employees about how the pens never work. Having worked for years at K-Mart, I know exactly how frustrating it would have been to constantly hand occasionally functional pens to customers. I thought maybe I could relate to them a little bit. But Forrest handed me a pen that worked perfectly. Surprised, I looked up at the young man and said chuckling, "They must have ordered some new pens, right?" Forrest smiled back to me blankly and blinked twice. He obviously didn't understand my reference, or his smile was just evidence of socialized, rote conversational etiquette for avoiding another banal conversation with another ridiculous customer about pens. But I'm pretty sure he had no idea what I was talking about. And I know Forrest has been working there for longer than 6 months.

Suddenly aware of our clear disconnect, I returned his blank return, "These pens used to never work, you know?" Vacant eyes again. Very slight lateral nodding of his head, as though he was trying to shoo me away or coach me to stop talking. I suddenly remembered my K-Mart past and felt a little sympathy for Forrest. I could picture Forrest talking with his baggy-pants, shaggy-headed peers in the break room about the bearded buffoon who made a crack about their pens and then acted like he should think its funny or something.

I'll be sure and ask him more about the pens if I ever spot him while driving down the road.

3 Comments

Schu Schumacher writes:
I enjoyed this post Gav. Tell Forrest to pick it up.
HenleyL writes:
Hey, I really enjoy your blog. I have a blog too in a totally unrelated field (Online Stock Trading) but I like to check in here on a regular basis, just to see what's going on and it's always interesting to say the least. It's always entertaining what people have to say.
spyware.iemonster writes:
I never would have believed I would need to know this, but thank goodness for google, right?

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