The plan was that I’d hit Taco Bell for some absolutely repugnant food. (Taco Bell never fails to please.) The problem was that I was down to my last buck, and even TB that won’t buy you squat any more. So, I stopped by my local atm.
It wasn’t working… of course.
So, I figured I needed to buy something and get cash back… but where?... where?
There’s a Target nearby. Why not? So, I called Vicky and asked if she needed anything picked up at Target. I just wanted the cash back – to get lunch. Vicky had to think for a minute. Then, she replied, “Pick up some Quilted Northern, double roll.” Setting aside the fact that my wife scares me with her specificity for the moment, I didn’t want to buy toilet paper? I didn’t want to be the guy who went to Target just for toilet paper. Listen, being sent to the store for toilet paper is one step down from being sent to the store for tampons – and there isn’t a man alive who doesn’t cringe at the thought.
“So, your woman’s on the rag, huh?”
When you go just for toilet paper, you’re sending a message. “I gotta shit and I gotta shit bad. I gotta shit so bad, I’m buying extra toilet paper during my lunch hour to get ready.”
So, there I was. And I didn’t want to just get toilet paper. So, I started looking around. Target sells these multipacks of Cheetos that are pretty damned bad for me… that I love, so… but they were out. Bastards! No problem, though. I went to the DVD/Videogame/CD/Book… the “guy” section…. And didn’t find a damned thing. Bastards! Fine, I thought. I’ll buy clothes! That’s right! I sank down to the point where I was going to buy myself some fucking clothes from Target!!!!
Son of a bitch!
Resigned, I approached the register.
There was a guy there who grew a worse beard than me (no kidding) and had a worse haircut that me (seriously) and he had this look. The look said, “Gotta shit, huh? Yeah, I bet you really gotta shit.” It was a look that laughed… and it made me want to punch him in the face.
So, I’m repressed. So what?! Listen, I was raised in a time and place where people didn’t refer to bodily functions, they referred to toilet paper as “TP”, they ran the water when they went. Listen, I didn’t even know there were words for it until I got older! In my home, they were numbers, okay?!
I waited behind this woman with her child. “Can I pay part of this with cash?” she asked.
Say NO, I thought. Say NO.
She did, and all the while this child (baby, really) fought and screamed. Why? She wanted to put the atm card in the machine. This kid of no more than one or two years old was having a tantrum over economics. Tell me we don’t live in a society that worships money – TELL ME!
As this woman fought with her purse and her child, I was finding relief… wait… wrong word. I found other things I could buy, so I wasn’t buying only toilet paper. Oh, thank heaven for impulse aisles! (And 7-11…) I grabbed some chips and some cookies and put them on the counter. “Before… and after,” I thought.
When the guy looked back at me, after the woman and her nutjob baby were done, the smirk was gone. It worked!
I got my cash back and headed to TB. (TB… TP… I should have gone to Wendy’s!) As I placed my order, I mentioned, “By the way, your hot sauce container is almost empty.” Suddenly, the woman at the register started screaming at the guy beside her. His name was Thomas… and he HATED his job. He screamed back about how much he hated the place and how he didn’t need this job and how he should just walk…
… until she asked how he was going to have his mom pick him up in the middle of the day.
I felt bad for the guy. We’re all such fucking sheep; it was nice to see a little rebellion. But, no. He went and filled the hot sauce – smashing the packets in with a force sure to rupture several, or several dozen, of them.
And I went back to my own job. It was a goofy lunch but there it was. I’m not Thomas. I’m not Mr. Smirk at Target. I get to write for a living, even if it is mostly garbage. Sometimes, I have to go buy toilet paper… but I got a bag of chips and some cookies in my car. Sometimes, the small victories are just the ones you get.