August 29th, 2001

JOY

Yes, we have no bananas

I don’t know what my deal is, but a little bit of confrontation peppered with a dash of argument really gets me going. This morning was no exception.

On my way from the metro to my office, I pass an old man and his fruit stand. Since I have been working here and walking past him, he says good morning to me every morning, good night every evening, and gives me a pleasant hello, how are you when I pass him at lunch. He seems to be a very nice old man, but my only beef with him is that he tends to want to talk too long. A walk-by conversation shouldn’t consist of more than three phrases total; this guy wants full-on chitchat at every opportunity. I recently started trying to beat him at his own game, only to discover that he either does not understand what I say to him, or that he’s just not listening (when I reply to his “good night” with a “same to you, did you have a nice day today?” he says “Good night” or just nods).

I buy fruit from him occasionally, but I have been trying to eat more fruit and since a fifty cent banana is a lot more cost effective than the $2.25 fruit salad from the coffee shop, I’ve been shopping from him more often. I think so far I have bought fruit from him ten times, but the quality of the fruit has been hit and miss. The first time I got grapes, and they were fantastic, then I got plums that were overripe to the point of nearly rotten, then I got a mealy apple, but other times the apples have been good. The bananas have been the exception, being big and perfectly ripe almost every time. Yesterday’s banana was great.

Today I went to buy a banana from him again, but they weren’t looking quite so good. They were covered in black spots, some were split open, others were bruised. I picked up one and gave it a gentle squeeze and it mushed in my hand. I picked up another and it fell off the stem. The fruit man has readied a bag for me, and is looking at me half expectedly, half confused as to why my fruit choice is taking so long. I finally decide that the pickings aren’t too good, so I’ll spring for the expensive fruit salad. Turning to walk away, he looks at me, looks at the bananas and kinda grunts, nudging his head forward. I say “eeh, no banana today”.

His face fills with concern and he asks me why. I said that the bananas today were no good. Yesterday they were okay, but today no good. I thank him and try to walk away. He demands to know what I mean by the bananas being no good, so I show him the bruised ones. And the split ones. He tries to sell me one that looks okay, but it happened to be one of the ones that fall off the stem (which happened as he was showing me how “good” it was). So then he goes for another one that is good, but this one is about four inches long. I said that I didn’t want to buy a little one so he says he’ll give it to me. I told him it was okay and that I didn’t want it. He offered me two, and I refused. Then he asked me how many I want. Bad fruit is bad fruit, I still don’t want it even if it’s free.

He asks me again how many I want, and I tell him again that I don’t want any since they’re all bad. He says he’ll go to his car and get more. I tell him not to worry, but he turns to go to the car anyway. I choose this opportunity to make a break for it, he turns and begs me again to give him a minute, and I thank him again and keep going. He starts yelling “WAIT” in a far less pleading, far more demanding voice and now I’m determined not to buy a banana. I yell back, “Don’t you yell at me” and turn away, headed to the coffee shop for my expensive fruit salad.

My droopy eyes have switched to a springy step. I feel awake and alive. I hope the bananas are better tomorrow.
  • Current Mood
    awake awake
JOY

With a dry cool wit like that, I could be an Action Hero.

This morning’s argument reminds me of a similar event that happened recently. Having little to do Sunday and not wanting to make it another day when I don’t even unlock my door until 8pm, I got in the car and headed to Target. The Potomac Yards Target is a goddamn zoo on Sunday afternoons. Get a strip mall that has a Target, an Old Navy, Barnes and Noble, PetSmart, and a Shoppers Food Whorehouse and you have an insta-jam (the only way to make this place more of a goatscrew would be to add a Home Depot); put it at a convenient crossroads between Virginia, Maryland and DC, and you have a goddamn zoo. I got into the parking lot and turned right out of it. Not willing to go home, but not willing to put up with Potomac Yards, I headed south down Route 1, remembering that there were in fact some things beyond the 495 exit.

I went through Old Town Alexandria, passed the 495 exit, the few dodgy motels near it, and then passed the Krispy Kreme. No one goes that far. It’s just not done.

First I come across another Shoppers, that was in a tiny yet newish strip mall with some smaller stores, a CVS and some other stuff. Then I found a Michaels Craft store (that I wish I knew was there a few Sundays ago when I was wandering all over Annandale on the brink of pissing myself looking for a place that sold spray paint) sharing it’s strip with nothing but a Chuck E Cheese. It was the Strip Mall that Time Forgot. The holes were still visible from where the sign for the store before it was installed (It was something with a T). There were weeds growing out of the lines in the parking lot. Lots of them. It was as if the owners of the place stopped caring about its upkeep the second 95 was completed through the area. The place looked like it hadn’t enjoyed any upkeep in twenty years. Time stops on Route 1. But the Michaels was large and well-stocked, even if it was depressing to be in the parking lot.

I ventured south, passing Hubcap Heaven, a ChiChi’s (which is another bonus since I thought they all went out of business) and some more strip malls, one of which had three buffet restaurants in it alone. Then I came upon the Wal-Mart. It shone on the hillside like a beacon of values. I was concerned that it would be as disastrous as the Target on a Sunday during Back to School time, but it wasn’t terrible. I was so delighted to find it, as the only other Wal-Mart nearby I was aware of is out in Fairfax. And dammit, I got some Wal-Mart shopping done – managing to walk out of there with a cartful of stuff, leaving only $60 behind.

After wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart for over an hour and a half, I went to check out. The guy in front of me, who with his, shaven head, bulging neck and biceps, clad in his sweatpants and T-shirt-with-the-sleeves-cut-off bore a shocking resemblance to Billy Blanks was buying a grill, charcoal and some other large box-items. He was still getting his stuff together after he was rung up, and I moved to the register where the girl had already started ringing me up. Billy turns around and demands, “Lady, can you wait just ONE SECOND?” Confused, I asked him what the problem was, and he said that I had “kept bumping into him” with my shopping cart.

I was dumbfounded. I asked him why he said that instead of saying, “excuse me” and he said that he didn’t have time. I told him I would have apologized to him had he not behaved in such a way but since he chose to be rude, he didn’t deserve it. He threw his hands up and said “I’m not going to get into this”. I said “then think about what you are saying before you say it.” He started muttering and walked off.

I felt kind of justified, since the girl gave me one of those “what was that all about” looks and rang me up. I was still pissed, and ran the event over in my head again and again, of course coming up with the perfect comeback (“I thought steroids shrank your balls, not your manners”) while I was loading my stuff in my car. I need writers.
  • Current Mood
    devious devious