Monday, January 08, 2007


The other day, I was buying groceries at The Store, and I watched all my selections travel down the conveyor belt. The cashier scanned everything one at a time and slid it down to the bag man (sometimes our bag people are men who look as if they have retired from grander jobs and now bag groceries just for something to do). Anyway, we got down to the last few items, and the cashier picked up a plastic bag containing two small oblong looking vegetable things. They were whitish with green ends, and they had leaves you could pull off. That's exactly what I was going to do with them--I was going to trim the leaves and mound them with smoked salmon spread. I like these little natural spoon like things--they're great with tapenade or crabmeat salad.

So, the cashier held up the bag and asked, "what are these?" I know what those are, for Pete's sake. I purposely put them in the plastic bag and tied the end in a knot. I tossed them in my cart and brought them to the conveyor belt because I wanted them. I have used them several times before, and I had a specific plan for them. But when asked in that moment, do you think I could come up with the name? Do you think the tiny portion of my brain that sends the signal for the name of the small lettucy things would transmit properly without static, without interference from other signals that said things like "don't forget to get gas in the car," "don't forget to pick up the dry cleaning," "don't forget to pick up the kid at school," "don't forget your name, you blabbering idiot who doesn't know what day it is."

I stood before the cashier, the bag man, and the kindly woman in line behind me, and I could not name the vegetable. All I could do was chuckle, knowing by their respective ages they had most likely experienced the same cranial misfiring. Evidently, they had because they laughed too, and the four of us stood around the bagged vegetable and tried to guess.

The woman behind me: Is it bokchoy?
Me: No
The bagman: what do you do with it?
Me: you peel the leaves and mound them with stuff
The woman behind me: Is it Chinese?
Me: No
The Cashier: Is it sweet cabbage?
Me: No
The Cashier: How about savory cabbage?
Me: Yes, that's it. Well, no it isn't, but let's say it is.

So, she rang it up as Savory Cabbage, and I got a bit of a bargain. She said I would remember the name as soon as I got home, and I said I would remember the name as soon as I got to the car. I paid for my bags of groceries and sheepishly pushed my cart back toward the cart spot.

I wasn't five feet from the cashier, the bag man, and the woman behind me, when the starter in my brain finally kicked in, and I yelled, "Endive!"

So, now, anytime I sense a glitch in the cerebral hemorrhaging, I yell, "Endive," so everyone will know I'm about to come up with a word or an idea, a whimpering thought that has been languishing in a pool of misspent starter fluid.


Sassy Sundry said...

Ha! That's funny.

If there's one thing I forget, it's the names of stuff. I always do. I remember all the little details. But the crucial one? Forget it.

dive said...

Hee hee.
That's wonderful, Robyn, although you are a bit young to be having "senior moments."

My own "endive" word is "brick", having lost it from my brain on site once.
If you can picture a serious looking bunch of men in suits and hard hats, waiting for the Architect to explain in sign language the concept he was struggling with …
And then the unmerciful teasing I received when they finally guessed what this oblong enigma was.

Oh, and I know you have a much better service industry over there, but do you really have people to pack your bags for you? Wow!

Robyn said...

Sassy, names of stuff and names of famous people, or sometimes names of people I have known for years. It's the nouns evidently. I wonder why that is.

Dive, I am only a few years younger than you. Over the weekend, I heard someone say he doesn't have room for old stuff in his brain because he has to make room for the new stuff.

Service in my grocery store: you put the stuff you want on a conveyor belt, and the cashier scans it and slides it down the bag person. The bag person bags it and put it in a plastic bin. Then he/she put the bin on a nother conveyor belt that goes outside. After you pay, you get in your car and drive to a pick up lane where a high school kid or an old man matches your bin # with a plastic card the cashier has given you, and then puts your groceries in your car for you. They say, without fail, "thank you. have a nice day." It's all very nice.

dive said...

You're kidding!
I load my stuff on a conveyor and a teenage cashier with a face full of acne crushes and mangles it, then lets it all roll down a slope and get more bashed about while I struggle to get some bags open that have been glued shut at the factory.
Then I lug it all outside into the rain and try to remember where I've parked my car.
The British veresion of "Have a nice day" is the hostile grunt.

Sassy Sundry said...

Dive, I laughed my fool head off when I saw the grocery clerks in Italy sitting down. They were slower than molasses in February (non-global warming), and no one cared.

dive said...

I dread to think of the reaction I'd get if I were to ask a cashier to pack my bags and take them out to my car, then thank me and wish me a nice day.
I'd probably be gingerly picking shopping out of my bottom for days.

Gina said...

I'm not even sure my grocery store has endive in it.

Sassy Sundry said...

Oh dear. That's funny. "Gingerly picking shopping out of my bottom." Hee hee.

No one really does the helping out to the car thing anymore, but groceries are bagged except at the self-checkout.

Robyn said...

"shopping out of my bottom" is an extremely funny image. Our store actually thrives on service--they have a person with a clipboard walking the isles to help you find everything you need.

And Gina, mine just recently starting selling endive, but they only sell radicchio over the holidays.