Ugh, only one checkout line open. Again. I only ran in here for a few things. As I wondered why I even bothered with this store anymore, trying to suppress my frustration with the little old lady at the front of the line with her twenty coupons and paying by check, I looked idly down at the basket in front of me.
"Didn't quite get what you came for, huh?" I asked, not knowing that I was about to kick off one of the most bizarre exchanges I'd had in years.
The man looked up, surprised and obviously a little awkward, staring back at me through the lenses of a pair of glasses that sat slightly askew. "What do you mean? I got everything on my list."
I stood there warily, trying to decide whether to let the conversation stop right here. The little old lady started arguing with the cashier about her dish soap's sale price not ringing up correctly. I decided I wasn't going anywhere for a while, and responded, "Well look, man, you had a pretty simple shopping list: Milk, Bread, Cheerios. It just doesn't seem like you got what you needed."
The man didn't seem to even understand what I was saying. "I got everything on my list," he replied tentatively.
"Well, you got bread... but that's the expired bread from the discount rack. It's starting to mold already, man."
He glanced from the basket to me and responded, with a strangely automatic air, "That bread has strong potential to contribute to a sandwich."
"Well... alright, I mean, I guess it's bread and all. But your list says Cheerios. You have boxes of 'Happy Ohs,' ''Cheery Rings' and 'Plucky O's.'"
"Those are qualified boxes of cereal right there. Did you see how much the Cheerios cost?"
I wanted to go into the notion that cost wasn't everything, especially if you really just needed a box of cereal that wouldn't be horrible, but I thought better of it. The line still wasn't moving, but I thought it was nearing time to wrap up this little chat. "Well look man, that milk was marked down because it expires tomorrow. There's no way you'll use a gallon of whole milk before it goes bad."
"Well, I had a regular gallon of milk and I was even ready to pay full price for it, but I bumped into my doctor and he swore up and down that the regular milk was going to go bad on me, so I figured I might as well just get this. And look how cheap it is!" He actually sounded a little bit upset about this one.
I started to just feel bad for the guy. "You know, man, I could just float you $10 if things are this tough right now. Go get the real stuff on your list."
The cashier asked the next customer to step up, and the man turned away from me, looking more than a little insulted as he told me he didn't need my charity.
"I'm the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations of the Baltimore Orioles."