Ollie’s

“I fell in here yesterday and went to the emergency,” she said.

“Hmmm,” I said. “Not good.”

We were waiting in line at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet – her before me. We were standing between a bunch of bags of out-of-season candy, mostly Halloween, and batteries and lotions and stuff. I was buying some reading glasses, a cheap shower curtain and cheap throw blanket and a couple of bags of popcorn flavored like fire roasted sweet corn. I was standing there minding my own business – debating if I ought to buy a new TV later, at a different store – when she started to chat.

“Over there,” she said, looking obviously at the corner of the store where they have clothes.

“I was over there and they didn’t have a chair so I sat on some luggage and fell off. Fell on the floor.” She said it like there was supposed to be a chair over there. I didn’t know if having chairs around was some kind or rule or not.

I waited for her to say she was going to sue but she didn’t. Then I looked to see if she had a cane or a walker. She didn’t so I thought it was pretty fucking stupid to try sitting in a store on a stack of suitcases.

She offered the lady in front of her a 15% off coupon but the lady politely declined, saying she was just exchanging something.

I noticed one of those giant bags of mixed candies had Butterfingers in it. I noticed the Butterfingers symbol on the bag was like a really faded yellow. I wondered how many Halloweens ago that candy was meant for.

Then she turned around to me again while the other woman was getting her exchange.

“They ought to have more cashiers,” she said. “We’re going on Christmas and they know it’s gonna be busy.”

I hate waiting in line like anybody else and when I think about it, Walmart usually comes to mind so I said, “Yeah. It’s like standing in line at Walmart. Maybe they need to pay people more. Maybe that’s the problem,” I said, meaning Ollie’s needed to pay more, not Walmart necessarily.

“No. The problem with Walmart is they hire nothing but Mexicans,” she said. “That’s their problem.”

And with that, I stopped thinking about the TV and Butterfingers. I looked away from her, lingering in the awkward silence we’d earned, until she finally got called to the register.

She put a little thing of blue dishwashing liquid on the counter, followed by a green tub of laundry detergent.

“This feels empty,” she told the cashier about the tub of detergent.

The cashier was black. I was wondering how that was going to go.

The cashier held it up and shook it. Then she opened the cap and smelled the contents.

“I think it’s good,” the cashier said.

“Okay,” she said, then added, “I bought these boots in here yesterday.” She lifted a foot slightly, but the cashier didn’t bother looking over the counter at her fake UGGs. Fake, I say, cause if she bought them at Ollie’s they couldn’t be anything other than an off-brand.

“You got ’em in half-sizes?” she asked.

“You mean like six and a half?” the cashier asked.

“Yeah,” the woman said. “I didn’t see any half-sizes.”

“No,” the cashier said.

I didn’t believe the cashier knew if they had half-sizes or not. But I thought it was good those stupid boots were passing through Ollie’s since that probably meant the style of faux-muk luks or whatever the fuck they’re supposed to be is passing . And maybe some 60 year-old racist wearing those stupid things was a good sign they’re on their last legs too.

The cashier bagged the soap and detergent and gave the woman her total.

The bigot in fake UGGs paid and left.

Then it was my turn.

At the end, the cashier asked if I wanted to just take the reading glasses instead of putting them in the bag.

I said yes and walked out with the glasses in one hand and everything else in the other.

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