Apparently, I possess a talent I didn’t realize was a talent: being able to discern the number system at the deli. Horrifyingly, I just found myself preventing fisticuffs over marinated golden beets and asian slaw because a deli full of soccer moms and illegal construction workers couldn’t take a goddamn number.
First of all, I wouldn’t have even had to stay in line had my co-worker not requested cranberry sauce on her turkey sandwich. I mean, I got a bagel dog. That takes 2 seconds. Anyway, like a fully formed human, I took Number 34 and silently waited for my turn. Suddenly, I hear a commotion.
“I was next!”
“No, I believe I was next.”
“No way, lady. It ain’t your turn. I been here for 10 minutes.”
“Well, I left my dog in the car.”
“Like I give a shit.”
Oh god. Don't make eye contact. Thankfully, a fellow numbers genius piped in. “Well, what number are you?”
“Yeah. You’ve got to take a number.”
“No one told me that!”
One would think that the huge, glowing and ever-changing number on the wall would be the first clue. The second? Oh, I don’t know. Maybe the guy behind the counter screaming out numbers in ascending order every time it’s someone else’s turn?
Worse, a good four people had no idea they needed a number. Mayhem ensued.
“I knew nothing about a number!”
“I’ve been here for ages?”
“What does this mean? Everyone without a number goes to the back of the line?”
“That’s not fair!”
“Wait. We need a number?”
Ugh. For reasons unknown, this is when I decide to snidely announce, “I’m Number 34.”
Now, why I did this is beyond me. I can only justify my stupidity by stating that there was no way I was going to let anyone stupid enough not to take a number cut in front of me, no matter how many dogs were in their car.
The crowd did not react well.
“She just walked in!”
“I’ve been here for 20 minutes!”
“My dog is in my car!”
“I HAVE to go to work!”
“Wait. We need a number?”
To my credit, I recovered. “Listen. This isn’t a big deal. This is deli sandwiches. I’ll go last. Okay?”
Slowly, the melee died down and civility took over. Sometimes, people need to be reminded of reality. We don’t need to throw down over Dutch crunch rolls and organic potato salad. Indeed, I went last. And when it was finally my turn, I leaned on the counter and ordered the stupid sandwich. As I was waiting, a 12lb. trophy wife walked in, in full “I don’t acknowledge the winter” tennis outfit and stood behind me, staring into oblivion. All of a sudden she said it.
“Um, excuse me. Do I need a number?”
Cue Dutch crunch roll flying through air…