Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Thanksgiving incident at Trader Joe's
My younger son came home from college Tuesday night, so Wednesday morning we go to Trader Joe's, to stock up on all the good stuff he likes, Cookie Butter and almond milk and protein bars and what have you. As we're leaving, and being rung up by the cashier, the guy asks, "Lots of people for Thanksgiving?" and I say, "No, not really, 16," to which he replies, "Do you want to make it 17?" and looks at me meaningfully, a proposition which throws me, a little, at first, but I recover, and say, "Why, do you want to come?" Fairly naturally, as if I invite the clerk at Trader Joe's to my family holiday events all the time. And he takes a step back, and kind of waves it off, like it's a joke, perhaps saying words to that effect, I can't recall, only it's an odd joke, and I look at him, and he looks at me, neither of us saying anything, then I glance over at the line behind me, which suddenly seems considerable, and shifts, in a way I interpret as impatience. So I grab my bag of groceries and flee, wishing him a Happy Thanksgiving over my shoulder, but also feeling like I am turning my back on him somehow. Because how happy could it be if he has nowhere to go?
In the parking lot I pause, and ask my son if perhaps the clerk really needs a place for Thanksgiving and perhaps we should just go back in and invite him over to our place, formally and sincerely, and which my boy rejects as just weird. "I'm a nice guy," I say, by way of explanation, or perhaps defensively, just to reassure myself, having just snubbed this poor fellow, which is not very nice at all, but even as I say it, I imagine telling my wife, "Hey honey, guess what? The cashier at Trader Joe's will be joining us for Thanksgiving—strange I know, but, hey, it seemed the thing to do and I hope you'll welcome him," and picture the cashier, still in his name tag, mingling with the family, awkwardly explaining himself, all the relatives who are tossing me confused inquiring looks, and that thought prompted me to the car though even as I drive away I am thinking that this is a lapse on my part, that I should have insisted the cashier come over for Thanksgiving, there would be plenty of food and he would be welcome and really isn't that what the holiday's all about?