Monday, February 1, 2010

I Which I Get My Way

A lot of the good stories I have had to share recently have involved visits to the grocery store. I'm not sure what that means, or if it means anything at all, but I am thankful for the blogging material nonetheless. The story I have to share with you today is something that happened this past Saturday at the local Walmart. 

The Boss and I had already gathered up into our cart the things we needed, and despite it being past 8:30 on a Saturday night, all the registers had massive lines. We picked one close to the entrance where we parked, and resigned ourselves to wait. Shortly after we got in line, another couple joined in behind us... a little too close behind us.

Being a person who requires a standard amount of personal space, I inched forward with our cart. No sooner had I stopped moving when the couple behind us moved right up close again. This went on a few more times, and with each passing minute I felt my anxiety level rise. They were so close that I could feel the breath of the guy standing behind me each time he sighed impatiently. 

For the record, I don't mind sharing close quarters with those I know and are comfortable with, but when it comes to complete strangers, I prefer to keep a polite distance. Not wanting to be rude, I continued to move as far forward as I could without being right on the heels of the person in front of me. The couple behind me moved in closer still. A quick glance over my shoulder showed that there was no one in line behind them, so there was no real reason for them to be so incredibly close to me. 

At the time, I was dealing with a considerable amount of congestion from this most recent allergy situation, and having no tissues or anything around to blow my nose into, I was forced to keep sniffing it all back up. Just as I was reaching the end of my patience with the close-quarters couple behind me, I got an idea.  An awful, evil idea, but knowing that my congestion is not from a cold, thus no sickness-causing germs to spread, I decided to go for it. 

The next time I had to sniff, I exaggerated it greatly and wiped the side of my hand vigorously against my nose. I then coughed violently into my hands. The Boss turned to me, concerned.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Yeah, I'm fine." There was a perfect amount of thick congestion blurriness in my voice. I worked up another massive sniff and hacked on the fake phlegm for a minute. "Just this damn flu is all."

The quiet conversation between the couple behind us stopped suddenly. It was then our turn to unload our items onto the conveyor belt, and just before I did, I decided to act out the last phase of my idea.

I coughed again, being sure to make it sound as juicy and gross as I possibly could. I didn't cough into my hands this time, instead choosing to aim into the corner of my left elbow... which I had angled directly at the close-quarters couple. 

"I just hope that I'm not contagious anymore. This whole Swine flu thing is really kicking my ass."

The couple exchanged a quick worried glance, and immediately took a few steps backwards. I smiled at them and coughed one last time. A nice hearty, phlegm-y one.


Happy Monday, folks. 


Alex said...


Joann Mannix said...

Hi Mike!

Oh, man, I didn't laugh, I cackled and snorted at that one! Awesome. I, too, need some required personal space and nothing irks me more. I call fools like that, breathers, as in breathing down my neck. Oh, I'm going to have to remember that one. I have a Walmart weirdo story that I'm saving to use until after Tuesday!!! Can't wait!

Susan Erickson said...

Like my Dad always said, "You may think it's funny but it's snot!"

Deb said...

-->Too bad you couldn't add in some bad breath and farting to the coughing.

TechnoBabe said...

Your way is probably better than my way. This way you got a chuckle and like you said, you have blog fodder. Cool.

Melanie's Randomness said...

hahaha!! Awesome! I hate when I'm jammed in the line between people. This is an awesome way to get them to move. hehe. I'll totally remember this! ;)

Glamour Girl said...

LOVE IT! I hate oblivous people! Really I dislike most people when I think about it. Everyone is only thinking about themselves!

Kael Hunt said...

Brilliant! Hahahaha!

Nej said...

That's a pet peeve of mine as well. Sometimes I take the "oh,they want to be close, eh?" approach. This usually involves stepping backward to look at something on the magazine or candy rack right beside us. I aim for toes, or ankles when I do it. I also stay as far back in the line as I can...even though the people ahead of me have taken many steps forward. This usually angers the people behind me to no end. I'll take as much time as I can putting my items on the conveyor....and I'll make as much small talk with the cashier as I can muster.

My goal is not to make them step back...but to find a new line.

But that's only when I'm in the mood to be evil. Most of the time I just turn around and ask them to take a step back. Followed by "the look." You know...the one that mothers give their children around the world.

It usually works, but isn't as fun. :-)

Nej said...

Grocery stores are full of stories. I prefer to think of it this way....everyone has to eat.

soft nonsense said...

Fantastic stuff. Usually, I just stretch out a little behind my cart, taking up as much space as possible before the line moves up. Then I straighten up, and usually people are too lazy to scoot up. If they aren't, I "accidentally" bump into the front of their cart to bring the point home. But your way is much more devious, which I fully appreciate.

Moonspun said...

You rock! That is something I'd think about...but never do!
Having worked in a grocery store for 15 years...well you see some good stuff. Back in my early days as a cashier, two customers got in a fight and tried to involve me. I was mortified, but politely declined to be part of it.

Amy said...

Good for you badass! People who are close talkers or just invade your personal space in general!

Mostly because I'm a germaphobe but also because I enjoy my personal space dammit!

F'ing Walmart...always good for blog material!

× Ǥσℓδεɳ Aɳgεℓ × said...

How nice of you (:

JennyMac said...


~AmandA~ said...

Hats off to you! I think I have an abnormally large bubble of personal space (yes I was hugged as a child, I just like my space!). Space Invaders make me crazy. It's like they think they're going to go through the line faster by being a couple inches closer. Idiots.

Nyx said...

Lovely. I hate it when people invade my space as well...and I have to admit, I'm guilty of doing the same thing. Oh the looks I get...and we won't go into how mortified whatever companion I have at the time is.

Stephanie said...

Great idea! I hate my personal space being invaded. I'm gonna keep this in mind for just those times.

Mrs Soup said...

So lovely!! I hate that space getting invaded by people that have no respect. Ridiculous. Those two inches WILL NOT make the line go any faster. Promise.

Sophia said...

That was a brilliant idea. Rejoice in the glory of VICTORY!


Little Ms Blogger said...

Personal space is important, but critical in the check out line, fast food line (because I don't need everyone knowing I super size) and the ATM line.

You should have turned and asked for a tissue AND then made the swine flu comment.

Melissa said...

You are WAY nicer than I am. I would have turned around and said something along the lines of if I can FEEL you breathing on me you are too close, and the line will NOT go faster if you just back the fuck off a little bit.

Chuck said...

Wow! Great minds think a like. Here is another Walmart post at my blog

Thanks for sharing got a mention on my site for it!

Keep it coming

eissel said...

Nice move..

Feral Female said...

Perfectly played Geek!

Mommakin said...


Sandy said...

I so know what you mean about strangers encroaching....hate that! Good plan, disgusting, but good.

Badass Geek said...

Alex: Thanks.

Joann Mannix: Me, too!

Susan Erickson: Oh, it's totally snot.

Deb: Gah! I should have!

TechnoBabe: Indeed!

Melanie's Randomness: Let me know how it works!

Glamour Girl: People suck sometimes.

Kael Hunt: Thank you!

Nej: I have yet to perfect "the look".

Soft Nonsense: Deviousness is always awesome.

Moonspun: That was probably a wise idea.

Amy: Me, too.

×Ǥσℓδεɳ Aɳgεℓ×: Thanks.

JennyMac: You are much too kind. =)

Amanda: Close proximity does not a fast moving line make.

Nyx: No, not at all.

Stephanie: Please do. =)

Mrs Soup: No, it will not.

Sophia: VICTORY.

Little Ms Blogger: People who stand close behind me at the ATM get much more than a fake dose of H1N1.

Melissa: Yeah, I thought of saying something.

Chuck: Thanks, dude.

Eissel: Thanks!

Feral Female: I thought so. ;)

Mommakin: Thank you!

Sandy: Disgusting, yes. Effective? Double yes.

Christina said...

On another note:
Dude, what happened to your favicon? :-o

Anyway, finally got around following your advice. This one goes out to you:

Mwa said...

Wonderful! I hate people who don't respect my personal space. I have taught my two year old about personal space. You did well, my friend.

Coach J said...

Personal space, yo. So the swine flu scare is good for something after all...

Notes From the Grove said...

Hehehehe! Aaahhhh, I LOVED this. So funny! You have some balls, my friend. That's the stuff I only DREAM of doing, lol.

for the love of pictures said...

A great fable worthy of Aesop! I too hate when strangers invade my bubble. I like that 3 feet of personal space to not include people breathing down my neck :)

ForeverRhonda said...

SEE! I knew I wasn't the only person who had grocery store issues!!!

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