Minding my own business

So, I’m standing in the Express Lane at Haggen, minding my own business, right? I’ve got my little box of contact solution (that’s right: got contacts on Friday, holy crap, I can see), and I’m reading the headlines of People and National Enquirer when I notice that this little kid is drifting out of my check-out line and into the next one. His dad, standing in front of me, trying in vain to remember his Haggen card number, does not seem to notice. Then he does notice, and he doesn’t seem much to care.

“Nathan,” he calls distractedly, “…or was it 85? Hey, Nathan, over here, buddy!”

The kid is maybe two.

When he does finally make his way back to our line, he’s got a big peppermint York patty in his hand, which he tries to hide behind his back as soon as his dad looks his way–but it’s shiny and silver, and about the size of his little head, so his dad spots it and says, “Okay, I saw that,” and shakes his head, No.

Which is when Nathan (who, I’m figuring out now, has this system down pat), deliberately, and with this cherubic look on his face, rips the wrapper right open and takes the patty out.

I’m sure fireworks will start flying, but no. The dad just says, “Well, guess it’s ours now,” and hands the now empty wrapper to the cashier for her to scan, along with $.69.

About now is when I notice a tiny, forlorn little black puppy sitting in the baby seat of their shopping cart. I notice it because it starts up this piercing series of yips–everybody else in the store notices as well, and so all eyes, for three lines either way, are trained on our aisle as the kid (Dad’s back is turned again, still busy with the cashier) offers the puppy some York patty.

Aw, shucks, I think, as the dog slobbers all over it, and takes a big bite. And then Oh… as the kid puts the now-defiled patty back in his mouth.

At this point, the lady behind me–“proper” is, I think, a good word to describe her flawlessly styled white hair and pursed lips–hisses, “Chocolate poisons dogs.”

“What?” I ask, not certain she’s addressing me and, if she is, not sure why she’s telling me this at all.

“I said,” she reiterates, “Chocolate poisons dogs.”

Coming from a family where the dogs beg for whipped cream and Reese’s peanut butter cups and live, generally, long happy lives, I am less concerned about the puppy at this point that I am about devious Nathan and his slobbery candy.

“Oh,” I say.

She continues huffily, “It’s hard, sometimes, to mind your own business.”

“Hmm,” I say, “sure is.”

I can see myself figuring prominently in some narrative later today about the callousness of kids these days, as she regales some poor relative with the tragic tale of how unfeeling, how self-absorbed and oblivious my generation must be, for me to stand by and let that poor puppy be force-fed poison. As though it was my duty, being next in line, to throw myself in front of the dog and cry, “No! Not the puppy!”

Nevermind the kid. I like to give parents the benefit of the doubt in most cases, since I don’t have kids, so what do I know? And the scenes in check-out lines are so often dramatic, and taken out of context. But…hmm. Seems like a kid needs a little bit of attention every now and then, doesn’t he?

Sometimes it is hard to mind one’s own business.

(One from the vaults: here’s an old school post for you, also about strange women in the check-out line)

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