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?

16 comments:

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    1. No. My wife pointed out that I was being dense, and the kid obviously was joking.

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  2. The cashier sounds like an oddball to me and was probably kidding.

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    1. I've said it before and will again-that Mrs. S., she's a wise one. She sounds very practical/pragmatic. That's a good thing.

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  3. There is only one way to know for sure....

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  4. I'd probably invite people to my house, but I'm autistic and strangers freak me out, so we just take in dogs and cats instead. True story. And we feed the raccoons and possums too.

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    1. Elliot-Is there some medication or counseling that can help with your fear of strangers?

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  5. I find the checkers often pleasantly friendly. It seems a bit unusual that someone pitches someone to invite them for Thanksgiving, maybe. There are indeed many people alone on Thanksgiving and other big holidays. Most probably don't mention it. I have a friend that invited a homeless guy from their area for a number of years. And, a guy who works for our building part time got handed a little card, an invitation to a dinner at a private home here locally. Free. For strangers.

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  6. I often find myself looking back and wishing I had been more forthright in my efforts to help. There are situations, such as the one you posted, where a few more words may have been enough to clarify or potentially offer help but the sudden nature of the event catches you off guard. Never fails to dampen my day.

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  7. Maybe it would be easier if your son drove to the store by himself.

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  8. Different families have different traditions about this sort of thing. For 20+ years, my family did thanksgiving with close family friends, who took in any stray who anyone knew. Might be 20 there, might be 40, including basic-training sailors from Great Lakes, newly arrived immigrants, friends-of-friends-of-folks who came every year but had noplace to go that year. Never knowing who'd be there was one of the delights, along with the food and drink.

    As for Trader Joe's, the clerks banter is a bad business strategy. Every time I go there to buy some flowers to leave on my mother's grave, the clerk feels the need to banter about how grateful some lucky girl will be to get them. I just shake my head, knowing he or she is obeying corporate orders. And then there's the genius who decided little kids deserved their own mini shopping carts to careen around the place with . . .

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    1. I don't mind the banter in principle, but there's no question some people are better at it than others. The kids with carts are cute, except when they're in my way. ;)

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  9. No thanks on Trader Joe's- too many hipsters, overpriced and I don't want to hear lectures from the goofy cashiers on why they don't use plastic bags.

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  10. i think he saw all the stuff you were buying for your son and it looked good to him as a young man as well . hence his comment .i think he was saying id like to eat this stuff too.

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