“Whoa, I was not expecting that one!”
Being able to make small talk is a skill that some people are extremely good at. Without even noticing it, people do it. At the laundromat, while peeing at the Dodger Stadium pee-tub (yeah the restrooms there are not hi-tech), and of course, with store employees.
I was at a Target, about to check out. In front of me was an older woman paying for her Tic Tacs and lip balm, while I was leafing through those awesome tabloids that say things like:
“HAS JUSTIN BIEBER NOT HIT PUBERTY YET? MOM SPEAKS!”
(Well to be honest, I don’t really remember what I was reading.)
Anyway, these weren’t in the traditional shelves, they were in those spinny ones.. like those spinning shelves where postcards are usually organized, and the shelf was awkwardly placed right before the cash register belt thing. I had a tough time putting the magazine back in there, so I was holding it in one hand, while my other hand tightly held five individually packaged pens as I approached the woman at the cash register. She was a bigger woman, with short brown hair and thick eyebrows who looked like she really had to try in order to smile.
“Sorry, I don’t want to buy this magazine, I just couldn’t put it back in there,” I told her as I approached her and smiled.
“Oh, don’t wo–”
“Whoa!” I let out in a surprised whisper, as I stepped back, and dropped one of my pens.
“Is everything alright, sir?” she asked, in the most high-pitched voice I had ever heard.
I was not expecting that voice.
I looked at her, without saying anything for a whole two seconds until my mind straightened itself out and finally let out a short chuckle/cough and then cleared my throat. It would have been fine if only the guy behind me would have kept his laughter inside, but he didn’t. He laughed out loud and that was enough to trigger my laugh reflex. So we both laughed, uninterrupted by the beep! beep! of my pens’ bar codes passing by the scanner. The lady was confused, but managed to let out a courtesy smile. I was not trying to be rude, seriously. Actually, I was worried that she would be offended or something. And then, just as I was about leave,
“Sir? SIR?” she called for me.
“Yes?” I responded nervously.
“Do you want me to put that away for you?” she asked.
“Oh, yes please,” I said as I handed her the tabloid.