That place never has any plain rice. They have jasmine, and yellow, and Basmati, and brown mixes and medleys, but never the plain sticky “I just worked in the paddy all day” white. That’s not the first time I went into that store looking for the basest of base ingredients and came through the opposite swinging door empty-handed and ticked off.
This time, some jerk with a smile on his face was standing in a Hawaiian shirt at the entrance, and told me I had to go through the exit doors around the corner instead of back out the way I came in.
Well, I hate doing that.
Every time, no matter how small my bag is, I feel like I’m trying to smuggle something out, unpaid. I don’t ever steal except for that one time when I took plastic figurines off my grandma’s mail table, and after my parents found the tiny orange giraffes caravanning on the dresser in my room my chin smarted for a week. I was really foxed by those giraffes.
But I feel like a crook whenever I leave a store through a separate exit and haven’t bought anything, but the store layout makes it so you are definitely exiting and not entering. And you pass the registers, and you say to yourself “I didn’t buy anything, but I have no reason to feel strange or apprehensive.” But then the thought that you have no reason to appear that way makes you wonder how you appear, and that extra layer of consciousness always gets me–soon my eyes are shifting, and I’ve morphed into a hoodlum, complete with baggy pants, a cautious step, and a feeling that my parents never thought I would amount to anything. I’ll show them for slapping me on the chin. What’s an 85-year old woman doing with tiny giraffes anyways?
That’s the feeling of the tragedy of capitalism, or something. And they make the exits so sinuous and impossible to get out of without banging into something or otherwise drawing undue attention to yourself. It’s like navigating a sleigh in the Iditarod with rabid raccoons, all the more if you have an empty cart with a busted front wheel.
My dad once told me never to talk politics in polite conversation. But I don’t think it’s politically controversal to ask markets not to fill their register n-caps with small bags of goodies I would like. You’re walking through without a purchase, or you have your ingredients for dinner, and then you see that damn barrel of honey roasted peanuts, calling out like an orange giraffe on a mail table. But you don’t need them, and they are pricey for such a small portion. It should be illegal. It’s like they are aiding and abetting a crime. The crime? Highway robbery, as my father would say. And if you’re on a public highway, it is now a political/social issue. I’m more than capable of shoving bags of peanuts in my pockets unnoticed before I get to the checkout. But now, when they’re right in my face at the end of my trip, I’m mad if I missed them back in the aisle where the security camera doesn’t have good visibility. The pockets of my coat can’t afford any unusual bulges. I didn’t think it was possible to say “fuck you” using legumes, but that just goes to show how insidious politics can get.