I'm Busy Pretending You're Not Here

The back of her head was a mess. It looked the way dead bodies’ heads look like when they’re dragged out of the ocean in the movies; patches of skin uncovered among raggedy, brown hair. She was making a fuzz over the bottle depositor being full and beeping, quietly harassing the cashier, who was busy scanning groceries. Her two cohorts were hunched over, supporting themselves on the edge of the conveyor belt. Resigned and coming down.

As I was waiting for the cashier to finish scanning my groceries, I caught the tail-end of a heated verbal exchange between the cashier and some guy who had some kind of axe to grind. I don’t know what the rub was, but he was behaving in such a manner that the cashier ended up scolding him.

All the people usually preoccupied with keeping their eyes from meeting someone else’s took notice. There’s nothing like heated discourse between strangers to unite people who’d usually just mind their own business, avoiding glances, going about their day; whatever that entails.

The guy in front of me was busy bagging his groceries, but couldn’t resist muttering ‘Damn foreigners, oughta go back to Pakistan’ under his breath. He was an older man from the north. Indignated, the Persian turned his attention to the old man, serving him a flustered lecture in geography and ethnicity.

I considered raising my voice, telling them both to go fuck themselves. It occured to me that they were bickering children, both ignorant and stupid. ‘Let’s just settle this right now; you’re picking a fight with an underpaid, overworked cashier — as for you… you’re a racist. Luckily, you might find respite in the fact that you’re both idiots.’ I never got that far.

They exchanged words for a few minutes before everything petered out and everyone went back to pretending they were alone in the store.

Thursday, 9. October, 2008 · , &