Friday, June 17, 2016

A tale of two stupids

Same store, same day, two different kinds of stupid--only one of them performed by me.

I'm standing in line at the photo counter at Wal-Mart--and it's not as if I can go anywhere else to pick up my photos, so I'm stuck--behind a young man who's trying very hard to do two things at once but failing badly. He's engaged in a heated conversation on his cell phone when the cashier asks him for seven dollars and some change, but he can't find the money while talking on the phone. He flails about, patting first this pocket and then that one, switching the phone to the other hand, trying the first pocket again, back to the conversation, oh here's the money but he can't count out the bills with one hand so he flails about some more until I can hear everyone in line silently beaming him commands to for heaven's sake PUT DOWN THE PHONE, but finally he's done and gone and the customers in line heave a sigh of relief while the cashier just rolls her eyes. She knows better than to say "Stupid" but the word is definitely in the air.

Later at the other end of the same store I ring up my few purchases at the self-serve checkout counter, ask for cash back from my debit card, press all the right buttons, gather my receipt and my purchases, and head out the door, but only 20 minutes later do I realize that I never picked up my cash. How long would a loose $20 bill last at a busy checkout counter at WalMart? Stupid stupid stupid, I tell myself, but then I consider another perspective: my stupidity didn't inconvenience anyone else and in fact probably made someone's day, maybe an overworked-but-underpaid WalMart employee or a customer who needs money for food or diapers. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. 

Or maybe not. But if I must do something stupid, I prefer the kind that doesn't harm anyone except myself.

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