Batdog on aisle 1

Sometimes, BatDog happens on the way home from work.

It started when I got in the wrong line.  Again.  It’s as predictable as an ice cream headache.  I get in a line and it’s going to be the slowest line.  Usually in the weirdest possible way.

I was in Trader Joes a few nights ago.  It was busy and every checkout line was open.  I got in line behind a guy holding a basket and realized after a few seconds that the guy ahead of him had a cart with 10,000 small packages of frozen food.  It looked like he had meticulously selected one package of every single item in both freezer aisles.  That’s gonna take a while.  I glanced over and saw another line with only 2 women in it.  They had similar builds, identical frizzy henna red hair and were standing less than a foot from each other.  I guessed they were family – sisters, maybe mother/daughter, and they only had one half full cart, that’s got to be quicker than the line I was in.  So I switched.

What was I thinking.

The checkout guy was suuuuper slow.  First day on the job confused and slow.  Oh good, I’m in the new guys lane.  Fine.  It’s not his fault he’s slow and the next time I’m in, I’m sure he’ll be much faster.   I watched as he pulled each item out, checked every side for the bar code, scanned it, then set the item in oddly precise columns on the bench next to him.   Not in a bag mind you, but in columns on the counter.  Meanwhile, I’m hungry, my uncooked dinner is in my basket and my patience is wearing thin.

Ten minutes later, one of the women ahead of me left with her groceries without talking to the second woman.  So the second woman just spent 10 minutes standing disturbingly close to a complete stranger.  That’s not weird or anything.

Ok, maybe they’re family and not on speaking terms.  Two sisters go shopping for groceries together and one of them accidentally mentions in conversation that she’s the one who knocked over the bunsen burner in their freshman science lab igniting a beaker filled with ethanol, causing the antiquated fire sprinklers to go off in every room in the school.  Unfortunately those sprinklers went off while her sister was presenting her paper mache scale replica of ‘The Thinker’ to the selection committee for a summer scholarship to intern at the Louvre. She didn’t get the scholarship because all the committee saw was a gooey grey mass glorping slowly onto the carpet.  So the sisters part without talking at the checkout stand.

Yeah, I don’t think so either – that was a total stranger climbing all the way into someone else’s personal space bubble and hanging out so close they were sharing eyelash dust.

The lady who had no food to buy at the grocery store then proceeded to buy an $80 gift card.  Using one $20 bill, two $5 bills and FIFTY FIVE $1 bills.  Which the new kid had to count, face, then recount.  While I stood there watching everyone else in every single line checkout and left the store.  If you’re wondering why I didn’t change lines, its because something else would have happened in the new line.  Exploding bag of frozen peas, Lithuanian tourist paying with pesos, Confused PETA protester blocking everyone from buying frozen Tofurkey….really, it could be anything, but it would happen in the line I was in.

When the Bunsen burner sister finally left, the poor clerk started carefully examining and scanning my dinner packages before precisely placing each item into columns on his counter. Still not bagging anything.  A woman I think was a manager came over and started bagging my food while he finished scanning.  Briefly, I thought I was moments from leaving the store with the dinner I was beginning to wonder if I could eat raw.

But no.  Instead, BatDog happened.

The manager stopped bagging groceries and looked behind me at the entrance doors.  Her eyes lit up and she shouted 2 feet from my face: “He’s back! Our mascot is Back!”.  Then with extra volume still too close to my ears: “BatDog!”  She gestured behind her to another employee, then left my half bagged groceries and went outside.  To coo over the ugliest dog on the planet.

I paid the bill, finished bagging my own groceries and after a sympathetic thought for the completely flummoxed kid at the check stand, I left.  Or tried to.  The two employees and a passerby were blocking most of the door exclaiming over the dog.  As I shuggled my way between them and the outer wall of the store, I heard her exclaim “We call him BatDog because he looks like someone hit him in the face with a bat and he’s a dog!”  The cooing squeeing sounds faded slowly as I walked through the rain to my car.

My 5 minute errand on the way home turned into another 30 minute show in the theater of the absurd.  I’d worry something is wrong with me that this keeps happening, but I live in Portland and I like to write.  I think its the cosmos giving me what I want in the oddest way possible.  That happens a lot actually….