During our excursions, we enjoy some shopping. There’s two kinds of shopping in Lancaster: Amish and commercial. (It’s not an official County Designation or anything, it’s just what we refer to. Didn’t want anyone looking something up and calling shenanigans on me.) There are no Sunday sales among the Amish vendors, so we save our outlet shopping for that time. And when we go to the outlets, I spend more of my time people watching.
Like the woman who was shopping in the “lingerie” section of a large clothing retailer. It’s one of those densely packed and hard-to-maneuver sections of the store, so at best you’re trying to see it all in a very compressed fashion, but add thick winter coats and flying scarves plus clomping boots and it’s not pretty. Bending over to check out the sizes in the bottom rack of four tiers of bras is challenging enough so I don’t need more problems. (And I don’t even have 99 of them.) I will call this problem “Determined Lady,” or “DL” because I’m lazy.
DL is wandering about the store and talking on her bluetooth headset. Right away I do my best to avoid her because a) she’s wandering aimlessly which means she has no purpose and no discernible traffic patterns to avoid collisions, and b) she’s wrapped up in this important phone call which clearly means her hearing is impaired. I’m assuming it was an important phone call because I would imagine that you would only need a bluetooth headset because you have urgent business that requires you to be available 24/7, like Jack Bauer. Imagine my surprise when she was overheard (and I wasn’t eavesdropping because man, could DL boom out the details) talking about what she might bring for brunch tomorrow. In great detail. Down to whether or not her heavy yellow platter would be too contrasting with her red tablecloth and the green parsley on the deviled eggs. Really? Who cares about this stuff? Now you’re discussing other platter options? Are you seriously coordinating your plates with your food choices over your bluetooth headset while you’re wandering aimlessly around the matching bra and panty sets? You’re not even shopping. Why are you here? Can’t this wait? You’re harshing my bra-shopping mellow, dude.
victim encounter was with an older gentlemen, henceforth known as OG, in the pots and pan section of another store. Do you know about the bubble? There is an implied safe space around each human being that we respect and keep out of. If someone hovers too close, they are said to be entering your bubble. Man, OG was in my bubble so many freakin’ times I started putting my hand over my purse like I did back in the days I worked in Manhattan. He was a loud breather, too, which assaulted my senses and made me wonder if he was a plague spreader. (And don’t think I didn’t ponder whether OG should have been named LB or PS; I pondered.) It wasn’t just in the pots and pans, either. It seemed his significant other was shopping in sections he wasn’t interested in, so he was looking for things to look at, scrutinize, examine, tsk over, and replace on the shelves. No matter which aisle I went to, there was OG lurking like a guy in Atlantic City waiting for me to leave my slot machine so he could sneak in for the win. Down one aisle, I was blessed to find myself alone among the bamboo and maple cutting boards. Just as I turned one over to admire its smoothness, OG burst into the aisle with a scowl on his face and he reached for the same cutting board. Dude, get out of my bubble, you’re becoming a creeper.
The prize-taker, though, was two brothers I’ll call Tweedle Dum and Dee (TDD) who were patrons at the restaurant we stopped at for lunch. Many of the places to eat in Amish country are buffets, where we eat like we never would at home. Most of the places have seating on one side, and the buffet on the other, so you need to walk by many of the patrons on your way to get your food. We walked by the TDD table just as TD sneezed loudly. Into his hand. Which he wiped onto his shirt. I quickly glanced at his plate to see what he had been eating so I would avoid those same things, knowing his germy hands had been all over the serving spoons. I made a bee-line for the salad bar, reasonably sure he didn’t even know it existed, and loaded my plate. I love a good salad bar, and this was a very good one, indeed. After we enjoyed salads, we ventured forth for more substantial fare, and arrived at the hot buffet at the same time as TDD. Oh, dear. Having tipped off my friends to the level of cleanliness of some of our companions, we watched very carefully as the sneezy one made his way around, trying to anticipate where he’d want to go so we could get there first and be assured of a somewhat clean spoon. We lost sight of him around the ham loaf, and looked up just in time to see him place his sneeze-encrusted hand onto the spoon reserved for the — no, not those! — the brown buttered noodles. We froze, unable to comprehend. This, next to the bacon, was one of our Amishland must-haves: brown buttered noodles. Frantic, we looked around to see if there was, perhaps, another container with those little beauties that we could safely approach, but we were out of luck. Sadly, we watched as he scooped up hefty portions of noodley goodness onto his already overloaded plate, then recoiled in horror as he turned his head to the side and let loose with a very phegmy cough followed by another ginormous sneeze. Defeated, we went back to our table sans the delectable noodles of buttery heaven, then immediately brightened as a Mennonite woman brought out another heaping container of noodles. TDD both were deep into their dishes as my friend sprinted back up, promising a plate for all three of us, only to be stopped as the non-sneezy part of TDD slid out of his booth directly blocking her path. He was on his cell phone and used this opportunity to stand up, in the aisle, AND ADJUST HIS BELT AND PANTS. WHILE HE WAS ON THE PHONE.
My friend came back, shaking her head. ”I’m all for taking a bullet for the team,” she said, “but some battles are not worth winning.”
Now put a sneeze coming out of him and you’ll see what I mean.