March 12, 2003

Cashier

I have a thing for the cashier at the health food supermarket. I think it’s because she hates me. Either that or because of her body. Probably it’s both.

Today I went to her line, despite the next line being shorter. She didn’t say hello. She never says hello, nor smiles, nor does anything to acknowledge my existence as distinct from my groceries.

I once saw her sitting outside, at the far end of the parking lot, alone, reading. I didn’t dare speak with her. Occasionally I break down and attempt to make eye contact, but then I invariably feel foolish for having done so.

Our exchanges always follow the same pattern. She rings up my groceries and I give her my credit card. She processes the card and hands me a receipt to sign and a pen. I sign the receipt and give her the top copy plus the pen. She hands me my card and another receipt and I say thank you. “You’re welcome,” she says. You’re welcome is the only thing she has ever said to me. Sometimes she doesn’t say it – perhaps she forgets – and I end up waiting a split-second extra. That’s the worst: to stand there waiting for words that don’t even mean anything.

Walking back from the supermarket, I wondered if I’m attracted to her because she refuses to make eye contact with me, refuses to be even the slightest bit flirtatious or kind. I wondered too if she singles me out for this kind of treatment because she’s kind of hot for me. That one made me laugh out loud. She ignores me because she likes me. Ha, ha, ha.

While unpacking my groceries, I imagined that I had become a famous writer and had approached her as she sat at the far end of the parking lot, reading my famous book. I’ve had this fantasy before, and it’s always the same.

“Ah, you’re reading [book title here],” I say. “I’ve read it myself. What do you think of it so far?”

She surprises me by holding forth about it at length and with considerable feeling. In short, she hates it, thinks it’s worst kind of drivel, a complete waste of time – our culture has become a toilet, she says, or if not a toilet then a sewer, either a toilet or a sewer, she says, she can’t make up her mind, sometimes she thinks toilet but then she thinks sewer, she says, it’s so hard to decide, toilet, sewer, toilet, sewer, books like this don’t make it any easier, what did you think of it?