LaBrea and 3rd's Trader Joe's employees were suddenly effervescent with cheerful conversation, which led me to conclude that either spring was blooming in their pants, or someone received a stern lecture from corporate. At any rate, virtual rays of sunshine and rose petals floated from the lips of each cashier yesterday as they dragged each customer's purchases over the scanner.
"These are brand new," the strapping TJ employee with a tamped-down mohawk enthusiastically noted as he waved my pre-cooked, vacuum-sealed black-eyed peas over the scan spot. "They're great!"
"Uh, yeah," I stiltedly replied, searching my cerebral faculties for something interesting to say about beans. "You don't have to deal with the can." Heh. Weak, I thought.
It was then that I was secretly violently annoyed. Why does this guy care about what I'm buying? Why is it his business? What if I were buying nothing but tampons and toilet paper? What kind of conversation would we be having then?
And suddenly I was uncomfortable, talking about beans and all. Then he asked me about my plans for the weekend. "Well, for starters, I'm going to eat beans," I almost said. But, I didn't and gave some vague "I am not sure yet," sort of answer. Looking into his vacant face, I could tell that he could care less about what I was doing OR eating, that weekend. So, why the ridiculous pleasantries? How about less lip flapping, more speed? Put my beans in a bag and get me out of this place, for crying out loud! There's a line forming from the front of the store to the back! If neither of us cares, let's get on with it, shall we?
I grabbed the bagged beans, and dusted off the sunshine and rose petals. It was a dreary, cloudy day in L.A. I stepped outside and the parking lot was filled with people talking to themselves--but, really, that's not unusual. It's hard to tell in L.A. whether an individual is a bonafied nutter, or whether he or she is simply having a conversation with someone who is not present, typically via some sort of cyborg-like earpiece attached to a smarter-than-thou smart phone. At any rate, both the so-called "sane" and the societal rejects are constantly chattering. And that, my friends, is how affluence and insanity join hands and come together.
Just another day in paradise, at least as I see it.