Friday, February 18, 2011
I was in my favourite shop today, the 99c Store. It's a wonderland of oddness, so I normally feel very at home there, browsing through the piles of all-in-one onion choppers, wooden hearts left over from Valentine's Day and battery-operated staplers. Today I espied a stack of nifty clear plastic boxes, not unlike the one in the photo above, but this box was see-through. As I was examining them and wondering what you could store in them (yarn? Yarn! No, too small. Oh, well.) I heard a voice at my shoulder: "Excuse me, what are they?"
I turned to see an elderly man - no, I turned to see an old man beside me. He was almost doubled over with a hunchback, and he had a shopping basket full of knickknacks in his gnarled hand. He must have been in his mid-eighties. At least. Being a Friend of the Elderly, I showed him the box and demonstrated how you could open and close the lid.
"Handy, isn't it?" I said.
"It is," he replied. "Could you give me three of them, young lady?"
So I took three down off the shelf and placed them carefully in his basket. And went on with my shopping.
Ten minutes later we both ended up at the cash desk. I studied the trinkets on display while he placed the items in his basket on the desk.
"These boxes are wonderful," said the lady at the cash desk in a conversational tone. "They're very practical."
The old man peeped up at her. "They are," he said, "They're perfect for my collection of chopped-off fingers!"
Yes. Read that again.
The lady's jaw dropped open. The old man cackled - yes, cackled - and she looked at me desperately. I bit my lip and shrugged.
"They're the perfect size to store fingers in," he continued, "And you can see them because the boxes are transparent. Cackle, cackle."
The lady at the cash desk looked at me, bewildered. And visibly gulped.
"I'm only joking," said the old man.
And then he turned to peep up at me mischievously.
"Or am I? Cackle, cackle."
At this point the lady was clearly unnerved. She packed his stuff into a plastic bag and pushed it across the desk to him, making sure their fingers did not touch. He slowly wrapped his hands around the handles and shuffled off. Grinning.
"I hope he was joking," she whispered to me (it was taking him ages to make his way to the door of the shop: shuffle, shuffle, stop. Shuffle, shuffle, stop.) "Should I call the police?"
Given that our would-be digit-collector could barely get his own fingers around the door handle much less around a knife or similar chopping implement, and given the decidedly naughty twinkle in his eyes, I reassured her that he probably was joking.
"Nuts," she said, tapping the side of her head. "Every now and again we get a complete nutcase in here!"
Readers, I couldn't help but feel that it was somehow my fault. They flock to me. But at the same time part of me was hoping that I'm feisty enough to scare the bejabbers out of salesladies for the laugh when I'm an octogenarian crippled with arthritis.
Posted by The Gingerbread Lady at 8:21 PM