Bikes bikes bikes
I’ve spent the better part of the last three weeks trawling craigslist for a bike. When I woke up, with any extra time before work I’d check if there were any interesting new posts or ones I’d missed from last night. During my lunch break I scoured the local listings. When I got off work I expanded the search to see if there were a good deal in Berkeley or the city I could drive to on the weekend. I’d stay up till 1:00 in the morning searching and researching. I managed to put myself through biking elementary school on websites like bikeforums.net and sheldonbrown.com (PS his beard is fantastic) so I could tell a crappy derailleur from a good one or which Raleigh models were the best. I learned a lot, wrote a huge chunk of text telling a guy on the forum how he didn’t understand markets and that he was an idiot, and became a little bit boring. But it’s all paid off because today I finally got myself a bright blue Univega Gran Premio. I won’t bother with all its details because I don’t know them that well and they’re not interesting unless you’re into bikes, but suffice it to say that it’s super light and rides damn fast. It’s a lot of fun to ride. It’s also a nice bike and people who know bikes will say it’s a nice bike, and that makes me feel better about it but then I also feel shitty for basing my opinion of the bike on what other people think of it even though I’m not totally doing that but I’m doing it enough that I start to feel conflicted so it’s best not to over-think it and just be happy with the fun ride. Also the brakes squeal like a fucking rabbit in the claws of a bald eagle, gotta get that figured out.
I was in line at the supermarket recently, or actually I was about to be in line at the supermarket and I was buying only a deli sandwich. There are four check-out counters in the main check-out area, two by two and facing each other. Sometimes people will pool at the close check-out counters instead of going to the farther ones, so the wise shopper will scout all the lines instead of getting into the nearest one. The time I’m telling you about, both the right-hand check-out counters had an older lady checking out and there was a guy standing off to the side obviously deciding which one of these ladies would be fastest. He was right between the front two conveyor belts, effectively blocking anyone, including me, from getting in line before he made his decision.
After about twenty seconds of waiting for both of us he made his move for the far check-out counter since that one appeared to be in the lead. As soon as he took his first step, I swooped in at the near counter and place my sandwich at the end of the empty conveyor belt so the grocer could get through with me quickly. The old woman she’d been serving before me was moving pretty slowly, I could see the grocer looked a little annoyed, and I wanted to keep things moving for everyone’s benefit. So the grocer finished up with the old woman’s change, grabbed my sandwich and scanned it, and as she was saying hello to me this voice peeped up from my right: “Excuse me -.”
I turned and at the very end of the conveyor belt, not even next to it but behind it, holding her groceries in her arms, was a woman in her forties or fifties. She was skinny, a bit wrinkled, and her eyes were drooping. She had a spark of activity in them still – not the kind you preserve by taking care of yourself, exercising and keeping in good health, but the kind you keep going by constantly complaining for the past thirty years. “Excuse me,” she says again, “but I was in line. You cut in front of me.” My instinctive reaction in this kind of situation is to apologize, so that’s what I did, and I said I didn’t see her there. I didn’t, because she wasn’t in line, but I was too flustered and untrained to get snarky. I would’ve offered to let her go in front of me, but my sandwich was already past the scanner in the grocer’s hand, so not knowing what to do I looked to the grocer. I hoped that she could offer to unscan my sandwich, or maybe back me up. But as she met my eyes, I saw that she had been busy with the old lady who had just checked out and hadn’t noticed anything going on down the conveyor belt line, especially not who was in it and who wasn’t. I could see that because she looked at me like I was a jack ass. The woman from the end of the line cut in again, “It’s fine, just go ahead.” I apologized again. The process to finish checking out, with the grocer typing in what she needed to and me going through the steps of typing in my pin, accepting charges and rejecting cash-backs, took an agonizing and shameful minute and a half in the undeserved center spotlight of these two ladies’ simmering hatred. There was no way for me to resolve the situation and I hated it. As I finished checking out, I apologized again since I didn’t know how else to keep from feeling empty and defenseless. The lady said “It’s fine. I must’ve just been innocuous.”
She hadn’t been innocuous, she’d been a bitch. She’d set herself up to be a bitch, and executed the bitch ascent, vault, and landing with 10-point accuracy. I’m not saying this now out of spite, if I’d wanted to call her a bitch then I would’ve done it. I’m sharing this story as a cautionary tale. If you don’t want people to cut in front of you in line, just don’t let them do it. Letting them do it and then being a bitch about it won’t solve anything, it’ll just make everyone pissed off.
That bitch needs to go ride a bike.