Maybe if I concentrate hard enough I can make a laser shoot out of my eyes at this woman's head. This is what I'm thinking in the customer service line at the grocery store. Nine years ago I got in line behind this woman and now she's made best friends with the cashier and they're taking turns reading from the Magna Carta. People should try being a little less friendly in the interest of efficiency.
It's my fault that I'm even in the customer service line. I'm here to cash in my Mega Millions ticket for the mega sum of $3. Something is wrong though, because I thought I was supposed to be collecting $75 million. There must be some kind of mistake!
Three dollars shouldn't be enough to keep me in this purgatory and it's not. We're running on principal and vinegar at this point. I want to bear witness to exactly how long this exchange can take and see if they can squeeze it in before the store closes. Or a giant meteor strikes the Earth and wipes out life as we know it.
Cigarette packs are doing line dances behind the counter and the Western Union sign is daring me to try and wire myself somewhere else. Now the woman is asking about the difference between the lottery games (how ironic) and isn't going to leave until she's qualified to be the new president of the Georgia Lottery. There are two little boys squirming around on either side of her and I'm quite sure they want her to hurry up as well.
Food cravings are unpredictable and have no regard for the clock. It's lunchtime and I feel a mortal drive to consume lowfat cottage cheese with pineapples. This experience is making fast food actually look fast. One of the boys is looking up at me. We share each other's pain briefly before he breaks the wordless bond and punches his counterpart in the arm. The woman doesn't notice this.
I spend some time pondering my contributions to the solution for cancer. Have I made any? What, if anything, can I do while in this line to help rid the world of the terrible disease? Who writes the headlines on tabloids? Are Ben and J-Lo really breaking up, or is this just a stunt to throw the media? Could I be a paparazzi? They make really good money for those photos. Not quite Mega Millions bucks, but still ?
Apparently there's some confusion over the jackpot for the drawing tonight and the cashier is a lottery virtuoso n playing the machine until it sings her the magic seven-figure statistic. The potential winnings seem sufficient enough to merit the dollar ticket price and our heroine pays the piper.
I'm free! I get the $3 then the cottage cheese and I'm out the door. It has taken 20 minutes of my life and I plan on enjoying every last lowfat curd in this little plastic bucket. My character has not improved. There is no lesson to be learned here. This is our everyday life. Love your fellow man? Be patient? I guess. Next time I'll just go to McDonald's.
Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.