This is very problem
My back has been so sore and stiff for the past few days that I can’t even wipe my own ass. Naturally, this has put me in a shitty mood. I’ve been telling people I threw my back out throwing a microwave at my girlfriend. Obviously, I’m lying; it was really a convection oven.
Because I’m worried about my advancing decrepitude and don’t want to end up like a former coworker who was on crutches for months after he tripped and broke his entire skeleton, I thought I’d better get some calcium. So at 2:30 a.m. last Sunday morning, after seeing Louis C.K. do a midnight show, my girlfriend and I dropped by the all-night grocery near Pape station to buy milk. We went because we were already walking by, it was the only place open, and the milk is twenty cents cheaper than the IGA, so we’d have gone there anyway.
We’d just gotten off the all-night Vomit Comet. The bus driver, who was probably sick of dealing with drunks losing their equilibrium and bowling each other over, had spent the entire short ride repeatedly commanding me to hold onto a pole for safety while I tried to wriggle my Metropass back into my wallet and thought, Jesus Christ, dude, I know how to ride a bus. Between being talked to as though I was an idiot and having the sore back, I was a little grumpy.
So, we went into the grocery store and went back to the cooler, where I plucked a two-litre carton of 1% milk off the shelf. My girlfriend pointed out that I should get one from the back, first, because it was probably newer, and second, because there was no door on the cooler, so the one at the front probably wasn’t as well refrigerated. One of the key reasons I even have a girlfriend is to keep me from eating spoiled food, so I dutifully rummaged around and pulled a carton out of the back. Sure enough, it was colder and the expiry date was two days later. Meanwhile, I hadn’t heard the guy at the counter shouting at me, “Brother! Brother! Brother! Take one from in front!”
When I got to the register, he started lecturing me. “You should always take one from front! Is very problem for us!”
“Well, this is the one I want,” I said.
“You should always take one from front! Everyone take one from back, front one never sells. Is very problem for us!”
Well, this was very problem for him. It’s not my concern. I don’t work for him. I’m glad I don’t. I’ve seen him berate the woman working the register as I stood there on a previous visit. I couldn’t understand the language he was speaking, but his hectoring tone was clear then, as it was now.
I glared back at him. “I could buy no milk.”
I sensed my girlfriend stiffen as the atmosphere suddenly went chilly. She and I later agreed that this was a potential Soup Nazi moment; we both half-expected the grocer to snatch the carton out of my hand and yell, “No milk for you! Come back, one year!”
His eyes flashed angrily. “Yes, that’s right,” he said, ringing up my milk.
What’s odd is that this grocery does most of its trade in fruit and vegetables, not cheap milk. If you dare to pick through the fruit to try to find the ripest melon or least moldy orange, does he shout for you to just take one off the top? We’re tempted to try it, or, better yet, to watch him melt down as we root through the various cartons of eggs to pick a dozen good ones out of the cracked ones.
But, as my girlfriend points out, he seems volatile enough to pull a gun on his customers one day. “You take milk from back! Is very problem for us!” he’d shout. “Now is very problem for you!”
So we’re avoiding the place for a while. We come back, one year.
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