If one is willing to get in a screaming fight in Safeway, one is willing to attract an audience. That was my excuse for staring, at least.
First of all, everyone has a Safeway story. Not the most ghetto of grocery stores, the thing about Safeway is that everyone goes there. You have no choice, it's the best and worst of America all wrapped in one. And Fabreeze is always on sale.
My friend Van maintains that the Safeway at the Beach is the most action packed. But yesterday all hell broke lose at Potrero and needless to say, I was looking for a chair to pull front and center.
I arrived at Safeway jazzed anyway, having come from a meeting at KOFY-TV20 and convinced I'm about to become as famous as the KOFY dogs. Quite frankly, I was tempted to grab a courtesy phone and announce that shit to all of Safeway. Instead, I purchased necessities befitting a local TV personality (Superfood, Vogue, bananas) and went to check out.
Potrero Safeway offers shoppers the option of checking themselves out. It's all very European and something I'm not quite comfortable with. But the express lane is right by the self check out and I enjoy watching every single self-checker require help from a Safeway employee. (Shout out to Shelby!)
I was third in line at the Express Check Out and I had well under the 15 items or less required for this fast pass. I did not count the items of those in front of me, mainly because I'm not one of those people. No one had a huge mom-cart overflowing with a month's worth of supplies. We were all on our shit, in and out, committed to efficiency. And I had only observed the people in front of me because who cares about the people behind me, right?
Not an attractive man? None of my business.
So there I was, watching brave souls attempt to check their own groceries and waiting in line when I hear screaming directly behind me.
"Sir! Sir! I say, sir!"
I didn't dare move.
Another voice started in with a stern and business-like, "Excuse me. ExCUSE me."
I had to look and slowly turned my head to see two folks throwing elbows on who got to unload their basket onto the conveyor belt first.
In one corner, we had an older Hispanic woman who kept screaming, "Sir!" In the other corner we had a stern-looking middle aged white guy in complete cyclist's ensemble. And neither was about to give in.
As my things were already on the conveyor belt, and a plastic divider separated my Vogue from the fracas, I had no choice but to watch while pretending to look anywhere else.
This continued, the "Sir!/ExCUSE me!" battle for what seemed like ages. And eventually, I stopped pretending to look elsewhere and boldly stared.
"You're being very rude!" She announced. (to Lance Armstrong, not me.)
"You're cutting!" He responded.
At the risk of being sexist and ageist, she was an older woman. He was a middle aged guy in spandex. I didn't see which of them was in the wrong, but it wouldn't kill bikeshorts to be a gentleman and let the old lady with 6 items in her basket, one of which was ENSURE(!) go ahead of him.
You know, just because it's the fucking nice thing to do.
We've all felt screwed over in line before. And maybe once or twice a year do I really go crazy, decide to make something issue and cause a scene. On those (rare) occasions, there's always some unrelated thing going on in my life that's got me on edge anyway. And then someone sets me off at Safeway and suddenly it's World War III. I wondered what was going poorly in bikeshorts life that had pushed him into a physical altercation in the express lane. I was tempted to ask, "What's really wrong?"
But I didn't. I just stared. I didn't even bother to pick up the Vogue and flip through it. Oh no. I watched that whole thing, in part because I wanted them to notice they were stare-worthy and react accordingly: with shame, embarrassment and resolution.
No one was willing to budge an inch as it bcame my turn to pay for my groceries. I shot the checker a look. He shot me one back, complete with a smirk! I was delighted that kindred spirit Safeway checker and I were enjoying this together.
Due to the fight, a huge lag had been created behind me. I was paying and the melee still continued at the back of the conveyor belt. It had really gone on for quite some time, drawing the occasional, "Relax!" from a passer-by.
I looked up at kindred spirit Safeway checker and said, "What are you going to do?"
And bless him, this kid looked back at me and with a huge smile, said, "Nothing."
In seconds, I'd swiped my card and grabbed my bags. Kindred spirit Safeway checker, half of self check out and an array of spectators joined me in watching these two completely refuse to get on with their lives.
"We could be done by now! We could be done by now!" That was Lance Armstrong, high and mightly and oblivious to the scene he'd caused.
So finally, because she really had no other choice, the older woman screamed, "You win, asshole!"
And with that, making this officially the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life, she dropped her basket to the ground and stormed out of Safeway! It was fabulous. Honestly, it was all I could do not to applaud. I may have even whispered, "Fabulous" as she sashayed out of there.
The dramatic departure was her only way to save face and made Lance look like double the asshole. He was forced to unload his crap before a crowd, all of whom were silently thinking, "Happy now, you fucking dick?"
And I finally left, thrilled with the spectacle and hoping to run into my new best friend in the parking lot, simply to gush about how totally on her side all of Safeway will forever be...