I’m wandering around the grocery store with a vague list in my head. I find what I suppose I need and proceed to the counter. One of the impulse items staring at me is a bag of dill pickle chips, and it triggers recency. I buy them as a replacement for a bag that I’d just ate most of before I left the house. I decide that when I get home I’ll eat the rest of that bag and then replace it with this one. This is in the hope that for a brief moment, when my husband Martin approaches the cupboard to get the remaining chips, as he retrieves the bag he will realize it is unopened. It will confuse to him and he’ll be forced to reconsider our conversation yesterday, in which he accused me of eating almost all of the chips. Prior to that exchange he must have gone to the cupboard to check on those chips and saw what he accurately believed to be the half-empty bag, of which I obviously ate the other half. During that ensuing conversation I told him I actually ate less than half of the bag, which was actually true. Because a bag of chips is like a car that loses half its value as soon as you take it off the lot. It looks so big, so full of chips on the shelf, but really it’s just full of air, which the Lays marketing department tell you is there to maintain freshness in the chips but in fact is used to make the bag look more enticing and somehow fresher.
Along with the chips, I grab two bags of candy, to be hidden in my drawer as my lone secret for the week, and a large chocolate Easter Bunny, on sale of course. I intend to hide this treat for Martin, because I missed Easter this year, or at least missed the morning ritual of having him search for any chocolate. I’ve been pretty good at the tradition before, but this go around I plum forgot, so I’d like to make it up to him. I’ll hide the bunny and send him on a scavenger hunt. It won’t be much but still it could be fun for him. He needs it lately, what with his tragic hip problems. The cashier asks me if I have the store’s loyalty card, and I do, since I’d previously applied for so that they would stop asking me every time if I had one. I still normally say no, even though it’s always in my purse, in order to avoid the hassle of finding the card, handing it to the clerk, waiting a moment, then getting it back and having to put it back in my purse, which isn’t always worth the time and effort, depending on how many points are actually being accrued, and if there is actually any future benefit of collecting said points. This time I decide to go through the motions for these fictional points that will never be redeemed, using the card that takes up precious real estate in my life. She scans it, I return it to the slot in my ever-growing front pouch, and then I pick up the handheld credit card terminal and stare through the display, waiting for it to ask me a question. Usually it displays the somehow relevant numbers and symbols to me, and then asks me if I’m “OK”. I always say yes, primarily so the machine doesn’t see through my facade. If I can fool Moneris, I can fool the world. I then tell the machine the one secret I’ve never told anyone by entering a classified password in a language only he and I understand, the PIN number. Lifelong sufferers of RAS Syndrome, the lot of us. As I’m waiting for the screen to inevitably ask me how I’m doing, the cashier, a Ukrainian woman in her early thirties who generally increases my enjoyment of the transaction, asks me which method of payment I will be using. She hesitates saying it, as she wasn’t entirely sure that a seemingly sensible adult female would actually believe that since she already handed over one card, the one for the points, then her brain would feel confident that it performed all the necessary payment steps. After her legitimate question, I stare at her puzzlingly, realizing that I haven’t yet handed her my credit card. I attempt to cover up my unintentional delay with a half-hearted, convoluted explanation that fails to mirror the explanation in my head, or the one I’m aiming to convey, which I am still unsure about. This moment has now ruined a previously perfectly civil cashier-customer relationship. I can feel the tension, and so I hastily pay with cash, leaving behind the not insignificant change, in order to get myself the jesus out of this store before any of this goes any further.