As the cashier begins to ring up the goods I’ve placed before her, I continue to admire her hair arrangement.

“Your hair looks great today,” I suddenly find myself saying.

She looks up from the loaf of bread held in her hands.

“I’m sorry. I can’t believe I just said that,” I quickly apologize. “Is that outside what’s sanctioned by the customer-cashier code of conduct?”

“I’m afraid so,” she tells me. “Anything unrelated to the transaction at hand is not permitted.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“Me too. I can’t sell these to you now. You’ll have to come back tomorrow.”

“But I’m out of tofu. What am I going to do?” I protest.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to go to another store or somehow manage without tofu until tomorrow. Those are the rules.”

“All right. I’ll put all this stuff back,” I relent.

I begin to replace the items on the counter between us into my shopping basket.

“Oh,” she says suddenly. “I didn’t notice that you had that shampoo among your items. Were you by any chance going to ask me if I use this particular shampoo, before I interrupted what you were saying with my premature reaction to your lead into that question—thereby, making you feel the need to withdraw such an inquiry?” she asks with %rather
conspicuously suggestive intonation.

“Why yes, yes I was going to ask you that very question before you shattered my confidence,” I reply with attempted sincerity.

“Well, in that case then, I apologize for my faulty assumptions which curtailed your inquiry. I’ll be happy to ring up your items now,” she says.

“Thanks,” I reply, not sure what else to say.

“Not at all,” she says, as I place the items I’ve just put back into my basket upon the counter between us.

She begins once again to ring up these goods.

“So do you use this particular shampoo to clean your exquisite hair?” I ask.

“No I don’t,” she says, shaking her head as she picks up the box of tofu I need so urgently.

“I see,” is all I can say.

As she works through the remainder of my shopping, my gaze is transfixed upon her hair, and I wonder hopelessly which of the many shampoos available here is the one she uses.

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