A woman was having a major meltdown, right there in front of God and everybody. She was holding in her right hand one of those giant size bags of pork rinds. (You knew it would be a giant size bag didn’t you?) And she was waving it in the face of the pale-faced cashier, a large woman with thin lips, which were drawn into a tight straight line. It looked as though the cashier might have been biting her lips from the inside, in an effort to remain calm in the face of this raving maniac. In full disclosure I should confess here that I’ve had my raving maniac moments, albeit, never while flailing about a giant bag of pork rinds.
It was clear what the woman was so upset about. Clear because she kept shouting it at the poor cashier woman, over and over again.
“NO! I want you to call the manger right now! RIGHT NOW!” she yelled.
The girl who had been ringing up my items yelled for a manager. I was only picking up some creamer for coffee and some tea, I hadn’t bargained for a front-line seat to the Mad Woman Fight.
The manager, a guy so skinny he makes Demi Moore look overweight, came up beside me. “Whatzup?” he asked. He probably uses a lint brush to shave. He must be deaf, too, not to have heard all the fussing going on at checkout stand #4.
“You people don’t think!” the woman ranted. “Why would you put these” (insert pork rinds waving like a flag above her head) “with raw meat? Are you trying to kill us? Don’t you know that putting items like this with raw meat can cause all kinds of diseases?”
“I’m sorry ma’am,” the thin-lipped cashier woman replied. She said it softly, as if speaking quietly would assure those around that everything was hunky-dorey.
A man stood next to the ranting woman, hunched over the grocery cart, cap pulled low, a toddler straddling the leg-holes of the cart, and looking up as if to say, “Hey Daddy, let’s get out of here before mama really blows, okay?”
I kinda of chuckled over that big man hunched over that cart, trying to act like he didn’t know the woman with the bad temper. How many times have I seen my own husband or children act like they didn’t know me or didn’t know that sometimes I get batsh*t crazy? Although, to be fair, I have never waved a bag of pork rinds in anybody’s face.
Pork rinds are much too valuable to be waving around like that. Why that whole bag could have busted open and spilled out all over the place. Then all them people standing in line staring at the soft-spoken, thin-lipped cashier in lane #4 would have been down on their hands and knees scooping up the pork rinds and shoving them in their mouths like pigs in a corn bin. Take my word for it, ripping open a bag of pork rinds in a public marketplace could set off an international disaster. Don’t do it. Wag your finger if you must but don’t be wagging pork rinds at nobody.
The skinny manager dude didn’t even attempt to intervene. He stayed right beside me, like he was taking cover, watching as the Mad Woman continued her rant.
“Diseases! Did you hear me? You don’t pack ANYTHING with raw meat? I suppose you don’t even care that these were the baby’s snack treats! You could have killed my baby! You could have made her sick!”
“Yes, ma’am. I’m sorry, ma’am. I’ll be happy to rebag those.”
“NO!” More pork rinds in the sky. “NO! You people need to learn to do this right. Everytime I come to this store you all do stupid stuff like this!”
At that point the manager worked up his one vertebrae. He walked up behind Cashier #4 and said, “How can I help you?” to the Mad Woman.
My cashier handed me my creamer and tea. “Thank you,” I said and walked off.
The next day headlines said a young man had killed his grandmother – a righteous, beloved woman – after God told him to do it, but there was no mention of a shooting at the grocery store following a pork rind/raw meat dispute. So I assume everything got resolved without a call for EMTs.
But it had me thinking about something a student in my First Amendment Rights class said the other day. He is from another country, one that has a history of controlling its people. This student offers all sorts of valuable insights into the differences between living in a country like ours where the general public has the right to act the fool and living in a country where only political figures can act the fool in public and get away with it. .
What do you do when you are frustrated with a government official? I asked. What do you do if you want government to change?
Sometimes we get a doll, he said, and we might wrap the doll’s head in raw meat. We put a curse on it.
Some in the class laughed at the idea of hexing a doll, something that truly is so foreign to them.
But me? I keep thinking about that lady with the pork rinds, and the current political climate in our own country, and wondering if perhaps we all should take a moratorium from yelling at others, whatever the irritation.
Sew a voodoo doll.
Stick some pins in it.
Wrap its head in stinky meat like Lady Gaga did once.
Speak all the ugly things you want over it in the privacy of your own home.
But in public, do us all a favor and spare the rest of us your pork rind rants.
And, yes, I know I’m preaching to myself.