Let's talk about this asshole, shall we? Why is he an asshole? I'll get to that in a minute.
Remember back before March 2020? Before we were all sent home from our office jobs to "work from home?" Unless you are over 100 years old and you lived through the last pandemic that was experienced worldwide, this was a whole new experience for almost everyone. As the tedious, unsure days of the pandemic raged on, going out in public and mingling with your fellow human became a rare event. However, a strange phenomenon occurred almost organically. People began to express a compelling feeling of camaraderie. An overwhelming "we're all in this together" attitude arose among humankind. A feeling of goodness and benevolence. Helping your fellow earth-dweller through the hard times became an everyday occurrence. Helping those having difficultly dealing with the pandemic — both physically and mentally — became second nature. Then we all got vaccinated and we all went back to our offices and we all started going out in public and we all regained our disdain for our fellow humans.
Back to normal.
Once our cart was filled, we made our way up the the check-out area at the front of the store. That's where we encountered the asshole I alluded to earlier. But wait.... I'm getting ahead of myself.
The check-out lines were long. So long, in fact, that they snaked way back into the retail area of the store. Still-shopping customers had difficulty navigating the featured Christmas department while weaving around other customers who had already made their selections. The recent, pandemic-related practice of "social distancing" was somewhat relaxed, despite bright red labels affixed to the floor instructing customers to maintain a gap of six feet between them and fellow shoppers. Being respectful (pandemic or not), we kept a comfortable amount of space between us and the guy in front of us.
Evidently, not comfortable enough for him.
I stood by our cart as Mrs. P wandered in and out of the nearby aisles. Every so often, she would return with an interesting game or toy to show me. We would have a brief conversation about what she brought over. In my peripheral vison, I could sense the guy in front of us intrusively hanging on every word of our conversation. I could also see him silently shaking his head in an equally judgmental capacity, previously bestowed upon our grocery choices.
The line actually moved at a pretty good clip, bringing us within visual proximity of the cashier area. At this point, the single line fed each of the operating cash wraps. The guy in front of us — the asshole — chose the cashier to the left. We went right. As my wife entered her membership credentials into the electronic terminal, I began to arrange our soon-to-be purchases on the conveyer belt. I glanced over to our former line-mate, curious to see his progress. He was standing behind a woman who was methodically, albeit slowly, rifling though her purse, obviously searching for some form of payment. Our former line-mate — the asshole — stood rigid, arms tightly folded across his chest, his laser eyes burning a hole in the back of the woman's head.
Yep, we are on our way to "back to normal." There's a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, it may be a laser.