on friday i treated myself to a trip to the dollar store.

whereas in detroit, this would barely have merited a passing comment, since it was less than a 5 minute, easy drive from my house, in seattle it has been an epic journey.

first i had a quest to confirm the actual existence of this mythical place that i knew of in detroit but here apparently is virtually unknown (!). i literally had that heroin addict hunger about me as i looked searchingly into people’s faces and practically pleaded with them, “have you ever heard of a dollar store???” and i’d get this sort of blank stare. so i’d say verrrrrrrrry slowly, with super clear enunciation, “a dollllllllllllllaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr sssssssstoooooooorrrrrrrrrrre. it’s a place that has lots of stuff and everything costs a dollar.” and i would think that maybe i saw a flicker of recognition but then the flicker would pass and i’d get nothing. or once in while someone might say, “oh yeah, i think i’ve heard of that. maybe. or maybe i’m thinking of a mexican food mart…”

then, one fine day, while getting lost on the way to the department of motor vehicles (which is not called the department of motor vehicles here) i completely accidentally spotted the most beautiful vision- a dollar tree!!! and it wasn’t a mirage- it was for real in every way. the only problem was that since i’d found it by becoming terribly lost, the odds of re-finding it didn’t seem too great, and the place i was trying to find was down 97 different godforsaken roads that all turned into other godforsaken roads and changed names 19 different times- so even if i could figure out where i was actually supposed to be, it wouldn’t necessarily help me figure out where i went wrong and help me get back to the dollar store again.

so, i spent about $68,000 because i knew it might be a while before i got back there again.

but because when i’m not being a totally beaten down deflated pansy i am actually quite a fighter, i did venture out again to the not-called-DMV and i did actually find the dollar store, and i did figure out how to get there.

so score one for truth, justice, and good old american ingenuity.

friday afternoon i had a few spare hours and found myself in great need of a list of things that are so silly i won’t even write them here. but i was inspired to acquire them for my home, and off i went to the land of the dollar tree. i took my time in every aisle and chose exactly the color and size of each item i wanted. i got exactly the number of each thing i needed (yes, that did include 5 bags of mini gumballs, and no i do not plan to eat any of the orange ones.). by the time i was ready to check out, my cart was full- although to be completely fair the carts in dollar stores are built for children/ built to discourage you from buying too much stuff/ built to use the minimum amount of metal necessary which necessitates a tinier than normal cart/ built on a 3/4 scale just to see if you’re paying attention/ built small to make their merchandise seem bigger?/ or some other devious trick that might have looked great on paper but doesn’t work so well for me when i’m trying to stock up on, say, more than 3 packages of napkins…

in any case, there was only one cashier working, which was ok with me because i was enjoying the ambiance of the dollar store. everything was all pretty pre-easter pastel and happy looking- all except the other customers who were taking it pretty personally that there was only one cashier. like clearly they had phoned ahead to the store to let someone know they’d be shopping and someone better bring in extra staff to ring up their circus peanuts and toffee chews and blue soda and whatnot. like someone at the store had gotten the memo that these customers expected not to have to wait in a line and gosh darn it- that memo had been disregarded. for shame.

but here’s where it gets good, so if you’ve been nodding off, or fantasizing about running out to buy some circus peanuts, tune back in…

this woman waddles over to a place in line about 4 people ahead of me. and she rah-ther dramatically looks around and looks overly confused. and then she does this huge overly dramatized head swivel again and says, “hmmmm. i wonder where i was in the line before i left.” and nobody takes the bait. because they all want to pay so they can run out to their cars and stuff their faces with fiddle faddle too.

so she says in a REALLY LOUD FAKE WHISPER (that is meant to sound conspiratorial but that everyone could hear all the way to hawaii), “you know, i just have to remember where i was in line before. because i sure don’t want to be behind her!” and not only does she look directly at me, but she also points, and stares accusingly to drive it home.

and i was like, “wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut????????”

and she just kept staring at me with this weird crazy smile like she just said something in secret code TO EVERYONE IN THE STORE that i clearly could not have understood.

and i was like, “alan funt? candid camera? am i getting punked?”

but what i really said- in my native tongue of unaccented english- was, “well, you can go ahead of me if you want. i wouldn’t want to be behind me either!” and i smiled at her.

not a witchy ‘i’m gonna curse your offspring’ smile- but a real genuine ‘i can see you are clearly having a bad day’ smile.

a ‘perhaps you should go find a support group’ smile.

and she turned around and just cut into the line in front of some poor shocked woman who was either very timid or quite possibly really didn’t speak any english.

so here’s why i’m laughing- most of you who follow this blog either know me in real life or have seen news clips of me or heard me on the radio. i was born and raised in michigan. i have light brown hair,  green eyes, and pasty pale skin. i’m about the least foreign looking or sounding person you are going to meet. if you wanted someone to coach you on how to talk like a stereotypical midwesterner, i’d be your girl.

so why would this woman look at me and assume that i couldn’t understand what she was saying?

and i don’t think i look especially dumb, either. yes, i fail to use capital letters appropriately, but there’s no way she could have known that by looking at me in the dollar store. sure, i say “like” waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many times, but i’d have to say by all accounts that i’m still a relatively fluent speaker of english.

so if you were in that dollar store on friday, what was up with that?

and if you were that lady, did you find a support group?