I tightly griped the little white ticket in my right hand-number 31.
Next to me stood a middle-aged man wearing Dockers and a white Oakland Hills Country Club polo. I was not sure what number he held. The woman to my left, was balancing a watermelon on her hip, and carefully eyeing the various pasta salads (as her 3 children pounded the bags that lined the deli case, filled with pita bread).
"What else may I get you, Ma'am", asked the older black woman behind the counter. She had kind eyes.
"Um....well...what is the difference between THAT pasta salad and THAT one?". The Mother pointed in the general direction of the pasta salads, as she began to round up her crazy children.
"This one has a very robust Italian dressing, while THIS one is a bit sweeter", said the woman behind the counter.
"I see...well, let me ask the kids". The Mother turned to her 3 brats, as they continued to pound the pita chips and bread, and in a slow, soft, and painfully annoying voice asked, "Guys.....what kind of salad to you want?"
I immediately looked at the man standing next to me, as he very deliberately shifted his weight from his left side to his right. He looked down at his ticket and let out a quick burst of air.
"I WANT DAT ONE", replied the youngest of the kids. She was maybe 4 years old-hair pulled back in a messy ponytail and wearing bright pink Crocs. The little girl pointed to the bowl with the rose colored fluffy stuff, garnished with marshmallows.
"Isabelle, Mommy is not going to get that for the picnic. That is only for dessert. What pasta salad to you want?"
"THE ONE WE HAD AT GRANDMA'S", yelled the middle child. He was probably 7 years old, but super tall. Tall enough to press his head on the glass and gaze DOWN at the selections.
The Mother, still cradling the watermelon, brushed her bangs from her eyes and said, "Okay...let's see....maybe let's do 1 lb of the sweeter salad?"
"Okay, sounds good", the woman behind the counter firmly stated.
I folded the white piece of paper, with my number, in my hand.
The third child was beating her tiny hands against the glass, "Mommy, I wanna go to the pool", she whined. The other two kids resumed their bread beating.
The woman behind the counter removed a clear plastic container from the top of the deli case, and began scooping out the sweeter pasta salad.
"You know what, I better have the kids try this to make sure it's the right one", the Mother thought out loud.
The woman behind the counter, mid-scoop, put down the serving spoon and glanced up at the Mother.
"Okay, no problem", she stated.
Oh, but there WAS a problem. At that moment, the man from the Country Club crossed his arms and placed them over his stomach, in one fast motion.
The woman behind the counter handed a small white plastic spoon over the counter to the Mother. "Here is the sweet one", she said.
"KIDS! Get over here...try this one...this is the one that Grandma has. I think....do you like it?" The Mother's bangs had again fallen in her eyes.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING, I thought. Memorial Day and this lady is acting like she's at Costco on a Sunday afternoon....grazing on all of the finger foods that tempt weekend warehouse shoppers.
"THIS IS BAD", proclaimed the youngest child. "YUCKY, YUCKY, YUCK-EEEEEE", and she continued pounding the bread bags.
"But honey, don't you like the salad that Grandma always gives you guys?".
"I WANT TO TRY IT", demanded the oldest child. She was quiet up until this point.
The woman behind the counter again reached into the glass case, and pulled out a small white plastic spoon. "And this is the robust one", she explained.
The oldest child, maybe 9 years old, loosly gripped the spoon allowing a few chopped peppers to fall to the ground. Without hesitation she placed all of the spoon's contents into her mouth. "THIS IS SPICY, MOM."
The man from the Country Club decided to browse the dairy aisle 10 feet away, picking up blocks of blue cheese and then putting them down again.
"Kids-which one do you want. Come on, we need to get to the pool", said the Mom in a desperate manner.
WE NEED TO GET TO THE POOL!? ARE YOU KIDDING, LADY!? Glad to think the world revolves around you and your annoying kids, but it doesn't! Sorry that you think the WHOLE store actually cares about what pasta salad Grandma keeps in her fridge. Since when is a 4 year old a pasta salad expert? Put it on their plate, if they are hungry they will eat it. If they don't, give them a juice box and Teddy Grahams and MOVE ON.
The Mother set the watermelon down on, you guessed it, the bags of pita bread. "Let's just do 1 lb of the sweet and 1 lb of the robust", she requested.
"Okay, then". The woman behind the counter agreed.
The man from the country club joined us again. He was clearly frustrated. The poor guy probably just wanted a lb of potato salad or spinach dip. He probably knew what he wanted before he approached the deli case. Hell, before he even left the house! He was most likely ONLY shopping on Memorial Day because his wife forgot to make a dish to pass, was busy shaving her legs for the first pool day of the season, and made her husband go shopping. "I'll be ready by the time you get home", were most likely her last words.
I knew what I wanted. I just wanted 2 lbs of spinach dip. From there, I would walk 4 aisles over to grab a case of beer. I hope they have Blue Light Lime.
The woman behind the counter placed 2 full containers of pasta salad on top of the deli counter. "Anything else today, Ma'am", she asked.
"No....", the Mother hesitated as she took one last look of the various pasta, fruit, and potato salads. "No, that's it. Thanks".
She picked up the watermelon, and stacked both containers in her left hand. "Let's go guys". Her children, who had completely destroyed all of the pita chips and wrinkled the top layer of bread bags, skipped behind her. Shortly after, they raced to the check out lines.
"Number 30, you're up, what can I get for you number 30".
The man from the country club stepped up to the case, "I'll have 3 lbs of the sweet coleslaw", he said. Direct and to the point. He slowly turned around to look at me, "Finally", he said.
"Are you sure that is what Grandma has?", I asked.
We both laughed, and shortly after I grabbed my 2 lbs of spinach dip and soon found myself next to the pool. Finally.
This whole ordeal was nothing new to me. What is it with parents that think it's cute or appropriate to BABY talk with their children OR consult them like professionals when it comes to decisions at the deli counter.
This happens a lot at bagel stores. One time a 30 something guy, with his 3 year old son, spent 10 minutes at Einstein's-ordering alone! "TELL THE NICE LADY WHAT YOU WANT, HONEY".
"I......I........I.....(9 minutes later)...I...WANT......CHOCOLATE MILK"
The Dad, clearly proud of his prodigy child for being able to form a sentence, giggles. The high school kid behind the counter awkwardly grins as the line behind the guy grows longer.
"Your total is $5.24, sir", says the manager at the register.
"Now, give the lady the money...."
As the toddler drops the money on the counter, coins falling over the edge, everyone else in line thinks you are annoying.
Your kid is not cute, and no one really has any interest in him unless he can be toasted and smeared with veggie cream cheese. I mean, right?
So parents of the world, PLEASE don't be THAT person. The American public understands your goals of educating and socializing your children. From money matters to cultivating taste buds, that is all great. Do it at home, because the people in the LONG line behind you simply don't care.