Thursday, May 05, 2005

I Am Left To Ponder The Importance Of Hand Sanitizer

I made my weekly pilgrimage to Trader Joe's yesterday. I find that even though I start off intending to buy only a few things, I end up buying a whole cartful, since I'll buy anything from Trader Joes, seduced by all the pretty labels on their products proclaiming 'organic' and 'hormone-free.' I think that if they offered up a severed human foot, vacuum-packed in formaldehyde jelly, not only would I buy it and serve it up to my family, I'd buy an extra one, too, and invite my closest friends over for a dinner party. They would shrink back in horror when I announced they were eating "Severed Foot In Formaldehyde Jelly" but when I added, "From Trader Joes!" their faces would light up and relax in approval and they would ask for seconds, maybe even thirds, until all that was left on the platter was a toenail or two and a few dabs of toxic sauce. Like I said, everyone loves Trader Joes.

Something happened there yesterday, though, that nearly burst my bubble, shattered the image I have of a healthy, shiny grocery oasis. I had taken my cart filled with free-range ground turkey, organic mushrooms and other genetically superior product up to the checkout. After the cheery clerk, decked out in his official Trader Joe's uniform, the Hawaiian shirt, finished ringing up my purchases I asked to borrow a pen to write out my check.

Then he took one. From BEHIND HIS EAR.

Now, a more evolved, decisive person would have refused the pen, pointing out the obvious faux pas this feckless clerk had committed and asking for a new, fresh writing instrument that hadn't been held captive in a dark, moist space. But I, NOT WANTING TO HURT THIS STRANGER'S FEELINGS for some unexplainable and psychotic reason, took the pen with my feeble, willing hand, and noticed, not surprisingly, that it had a slightly slippery feel to it.

And thus began a few moments of silent panic. Many thoughts raced through my mind; should I cry out, drop the pen and begin yelling for a bucket of hot water and some iodine to soak my hand in and then a complete amputation there on the spot? Do I take the pen out of the equation altogether and do the sensible thing by using my ATM card instead? Or do I just take that pen, obviously coated with some gross mixture of sweat, hair product and God knows what else was growing in the petri dish behind his ear, and use it to write out my check as quickly as possible?

As you may have guessed, still NOT WANTING TO HURT HIS FEELINGS, I chose the last, nebbish choice. I took that slimy pen, which by now, aided by my overactive imagination was a teaming, poison reed of Ebola, West Nile and a host of other viruses, and wrote out my check, using only the very tips of my thumb and forefinger to hold the pen. The result is that it came out looking like it was written by a liquored-up blind monkey holding the pen between his lips while swinging from a vine. After I finished writing the check I was overcome with the urge to ball it up and roll it around in my armpit for a few seconds before handing it over to the oblivious clerk, just to prove my point but I restrained myself.

He took my check, took the skanky stick and slid it right back into it's comfy little home behind his ear. So my advice to all you Trader Joe's shoppers is, the Severed Foot In Formaldehyde Jelly is actually quite yummy with a nice side of sautéed organic mushrooms, but when you go there just remember, don't be like me - be strong and refuse the poison pen, or better yet, bring your own.

Archive File: This Life | Eating

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