4.24.2009

Wackos on parade

Do you ever feel you’ve walked into an episode of “The Twilight Zone?” So much weirdness surrounds you that it couldn’t possibly be real?

We who work at home probably get this sensation more than others. We don’t get out much, so we’re less inured to other people’s strange behavior.

The other day, I stopped by a drugstore to shop for sunglasses. When I say “drugstore,” I mean a modern-style drugstore, which is really a department store with a pharmacy in the back. Along with the usual ointments and remedies, my neighborhood drugstore has cosmetics, school supplies, housewares, groceries, a liquor department (my personal favorite), small appliances, DVDs, batteries and a sporting goods aisle, complete with fishing gear.

But that’s not the weird part.

The weirdness came from the customers. While I stooped to a tiny mirror to see how I looked in various sunglasses with large, dangling price tags, I heard so many strange things, I could only assume I’d barged into a “Twilight Zone” set. I kept looking around for Rod Serling.

First came Warren and his mom. Warren was a standard-issue small boy, full of energy and questions and noise. But Warren’s mom was another story. She had the loudest voice I’ve ever heard from a person who wasn’t actively rooting for a sports team.

“Warren! Come over here! Warren! Watch where you’re going! No, Warren, you can’t have that! Warren! Look at this! Warren!”

You could hear her all over the store. She didn’t seem angry or particularly frustrated. Just oh-my-Lord loud. She either had no idea that her voice carries so well, or she was one of those daffy look-at-me types who wanted us all to share in her shopping adventure with Warren.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only customer to wonder about Warren’s future sessions on a psychiatrist’s couch.

Once they left, more yelling distracted me. A middle-aged couple started arguing over a certain product and whether it was cheaper elsewhere. This seemed a minor point to me, but it was enough to set off this happy couple. They screamed and growled and spat like a couple of angry alley cats. The argument went on for several minutes.

I’m sure all married couples have moments of disagreement. Many even get loud. But in public? In a store? Over prices?

Clearly, this was a troubled couple. I could only hope they didn’t have any little maladjusted Warrens at home.

Then a lady walked past me, talking to herself. OK, I know people talk to themselves. I do it all the time at home. But I rarely ask myself questions, then provide the answers. In public.

“Do we need some bread?” this lady muttered. “Yes, I think we do. There’s some bread over there. Hmm. Is this the brand I like? No, it is not. But I guess it’ll do. Now we need some coffee.”

As she wandered off, I thought: Wouldn’t it be easier to make a list?

The sudden lack of distracting conversation allowed me to notice the Muzak, which was playing a song that I hate, hate, hate. The music stopped when an employee came over the speaker to make an announcement. My relief lasted only a moment because, two rows over, a customer took up the tune, loudly whistling. He whistled all the way to the end of the song, including a guitar solo.

That’s when I gave up on buying sunglasses. Better to escape this “Twilight Zone,” even if it meant I’d go around squinting like Rod Serling.

I can always pick up some sunglasses the next time I buy fishing gear.

1 comment:

Uncle Skip, said...

There's an entire website devoted to what people will say loud enough for anyone to hear.
Overheard Everywhere Actually it is more than one website.