“Lady,” I say, spitting out the “d” like it’s been festering there, like it’s been lying dormant in my kind-ish heart for 42 years waiting for an excuse to erupt and spew forth. Waiting … for Wegmans. “This would not be a problem,” I announce, almost shouting now, “if you just got off your GODDAMN PHONE!”
She stares into my eyes. I stare into hers. I’m pretty sure we’re about to crawl over our carts and start slapping each other. And then, just like that, her eyes soften. They soften. The corners of my mouth lift into a smile. Not an “I’m going to cut you” smile, but a genuine “We’re all in this together” smile. She gets it. She understands where we are. She’s well aware that thanks to me, in this little moment by the pineapples, she will leave this place a stronger person. So will I. She responds exactly how I expect her to: She flips me off, then moves her cart. I grab my pineapple. One of us grunts — I’m not sure who. And then we both walk away, on to the next battle.
Originally published in the May 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.