Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Challenge Accepted!

My first real job after I was old enough to get away from chopping cotton and picking okra was sacking groceries in a store in town.
This was before the electric eye doors that whoosh to one side. The ones that let a person walk in and out without fear of death or dismemberment.
What we had then were pivot doors that swung to the inside. The opening mechanism was engaged by your weight depressing a button underneath a plastic mat in a metal frame flush with the sidewalk. What passed for safety a precaution was a button on the inside. If any one stood on the inside, their weight depressed a button and deactivated the primary button on the outside.
 It worked well enough. The prevailing thought was that if you were stupid enough to stand next to a door that could suddenly open up and whack the bejesus out of you, you get what you got.
They were hard to activate. You had to really be centered well and be deliberate about where you stepped.
It took thirty five to forty pounds to work this contraption.
Which is to say that most toddlers couldn't.
About once a week I would watch some kid at the check stand veer away from his mother.
The woman with the lucky strike dangling from her mouth and kiting a check.
Her kid would bang around the check-stands like a pin ball, before ricocheting towards the doors and get hemmed in like an addled dolphin stranded in Cape Cod.
Invariably some customer would walk up. They would see the kid.
They would stop for the kid.
They would wring hands and gnash teeth.
Someone should do something!
Some body should just DO SOMETHING! about the travesty that is about to unfold.
That some body just won't be me.
And they would hang their foot in the air like the karate kid, and step on the mat.
Schwing goes the door.
Whacks the kid in his head
And all hell break's loose.
The kid was never any worse for wear.
But to hear him/her you would have thought they just got the news that Santa Claus died.
The mother would jerk the kids arm out it's socket.
Apologies and nice nice's were exchanged.
And the kid got shoved in the trunk with the groceries.
I never knew if this was a sign of the times.
I have always said that my parents treated me and the Sisinator like we were suitcases.
Just useless appendages that they were waiting for evolution to dispense with us.

Or now I wonder if this was crazy shopping mothers crossing path's like two air masses of disordered thinking, and the kid just got sucked up in this vortex of dysfunction like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ?
None of this would raise an eyebrow back in the day.
Now it would now end up on the evening news.

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