...and when do you risk taking your life in your hands?
I've already had words with Mrs_Who about her chasing-down strangers... You never know when you're going to encounter a stark-raving nutball!
Case in point:
I recall an event that occurred one Fourth of July weekend about ten years ago in the checkout line at the Schillinger Road Delchamps grocery store in Mobile, Alabama. The seemingly harmless decision to use a daggum coupon turned potentially deadly. (Or at the very least, it was a dramatic and succinct lesson on the many varied uses of what is arguably the most versatile word in the english language...)
Of course being a repatriated Southerner and Alabama resident, and also being that it was the Fourth of July Weekend, local laws dictate that we barbeque. However, we discovered that our supplies were limited, so I escorted MamaBear to the store to resupply an essential main ingredient: barbeque sauce.
MamaBear and I are a deadly shopping team - we either get in/out with exactly what we want in a precision-strike, or we hone-in and study the quarry in tremendous detail, utilizing every available intel to find what invariably turns out to be the most expensive item in the establishment.
Today's was a rapid-strike manoeuver: Two bottles sauce... In. Out. Return to base pronto.
So there we were in the checkout line with two bottles of barbecue sauce at about $1.35 each. I had entered line first with MamaBear behind me. Behind her were two "trucker" looking characters with... what else? Beer and cigarettes.
The checker finalizes her transaction with the folks ahead of us and swipes our two bottles. "Wait!" Checker-girl says, "I'm pretty sure these are on sale."
"Oh really?" replies MamaBear, "Great!"
I roll my eyes.
"Yeah, there's a coupon in here somewhere..." says Checker-girl as she grabs the top copy of a multi-page four-color newspaper insert off a five-inch stack of adverts at the end of her checkout lane. I stand there, bored and impatient, looking about the store.
You see, I hate using coupons, and I flat refuse to pay for anything with a handful of loose change. (Maybe I should have added that to my "5 Weird Things" post!)
So Checker-girl and MamaBear are looking through what appears to be about an eight-page advertisement. "Here it is! Sixty cents, limit two!" MamaBear shoves the advertisement into my hands. "Here - tear it out while I get change from my purse." I roll my eyes and release a sigh of exasperation. Now we're using coupons and loose change... Ugh!
I start to tear around the coupon while Checker-girl rings-up the total. After coupon and tax, it's all of about $1.68 total. MamaBear hands change to Checker-girl. Checker-girl looks to me expectantly.
I don't know how many of you have tried to tear newspaper stock - let alone while standing in a checkout line with a cashier and a line of people all waiting on you. Fold it, crease it... doesn't matter. Newspaper doesn't tear in a straight line. Ever. In fact, it is certainly governed by Murphy's law, which dictates that it will tear in precisely any direction except the one you want. So naturally, it tore right through the middle of the damned coupon. "That's okay," says Checker-girl. "Just tear wider 'round it."
"Okay, I'm getting it." Damn, I was just minding my own business, and suddenly I'm put to task tearing apart newspaper like a preschooler with a first art project. And in front of an impatient audience to boot. Until that moment, however, I didn't realize how impatient...
"Who uses a F#$%ING COUPON for a F#$%ING TWO DOLLAR SALE??!!" Trucker #1 is glaring at me, red-faced and seething.
I could see his point. In fact, I agree with him completely. I hesitated, making eye-contact with him.
Oops... My bad.
Up twenty decibels from the former, Trucker#1 howled so that everyone could hear, "I SAID, WHAT F#$%ING KIND OF A F#$%ING F#$% USES A F#$%ING COUPON FOR TWO F#$%ING DOLLARS WORTH OF F#$%ING SH*T???!!!!"
Wow. I couldn't help but think to myself, 'How many F#$%s were in that sentence?'
I was shocked. Was that a question that demanded an answer? He seemed to think so. Realizing this guy was just a little less stable than a crystallized, sweating stick of TNT, I said to MamaBear, "Just pay the difference and let's get outta here."
Checker-girl chimes in, "I already rung it up with the coupon. I need the coupon for the register." She holds out her hand, impatiently now, her eyes darting sideways to the trucker and back to the coupon in my hands.
Oh. F-ing. Great.
Now Trucker#1 really freaks out. He bellows a string of expletives at me. Why? Because I'm holding the damned advertisement with the bifurcated coupon still firmly-attached. Spit is flinging from the corners of his mouth as he screams at me, and I'm. Just. Stunned.
In fact, so stunned I was basically frozen-in-place. I've never seen anyone go from Zero-to-Berserk in so quick a flash. It was part horror, part wonder, and complete blood-chilling, immediate realization that this was about to turn physical any nanosecond. It was at that precise moment that I realized how useless a pistol permit is when your sidearm is locked in the console of your truck - out in the parking lot. I totally forgot about the coupon in my hand.
"What the hell?" (Oh, shit. Was that out loud?)
Trucker#1's eyes bugged another half-inch out of his face, which I would have thought impossible just a moment earlier. He lifted up off the floor, leaning his torso forward past MamaBear and knocking her backward into the lane-divider as he attacked the stack of advertisements. With one bashing blow, he sent the whole pile careening thirty feet across the floor, littering the store almost to the entrance.
"HERE'S YOUR F#$%ING COUPONS YOU F#$%ING F#$%! I'M GOING TO F#$%ING BASH YOUR F#$%ING HEAD IN AND [something something] THIS STUPID C#$* TOO!"
The guy's face was purple and every vein was...
Did he just call my mother the C-word????!!!
That sonofabutterhead just knocked my mother against a wall and called her...
I saw red. The manager caught me as I lunged forward at Trucker#1, who was now already being held back by Trucker#2. Now Trucker#2 was yelling at me like I started it and threatened to release Trucker#1 to "finish" me.
I'm barking at the manager to get the police, and get them NOW. I want to press charges and have this nutcase locked safely away. Manager is telling me to get the hell out of his store before something "happens."
Once again (this time internally): What the hell?
A flowing barrage of insults, taunts and threats spews at us from the Trucker Twins as the store manager grabs me under the arm, turning me toward the door. MamaBear then appeared at my other arm, and every eye in the place followed me as I was ushered through the bomb-like debris of scattered newsprint to the parking lot.
Ten feet outside the door, Manager says, "now don't come back! And he turns to disappear quickly back into the store.
What the hell? Was I just banned from Delchamps??
I recap in my mind: I'm standing there minding my own business. A coupon is shoved in my hand. I'm verbally assaulted. I'm threatened and MamaBear is battered. Newspaper is everywhere. Now I'm standing in the Delchamps parking lot, having been thrown out by the manager himself, and I'm not sure if I'm welcome back. Ever.
Once again, and this time with feeling: What the hell??!
Damn f#$%ing coupons...