I’ve told you about how great it is to be a regular and how nice it is to have people remembering you, but sometimes that’s not the case at all.
There was a little bodega run by a Chinese family across from work that I used to hit up every morning on my way into the office. Being OCD and a creature of habit, I used get my healthy breakfast of two Diet Pepsi’s and an individually wrapped chocolate chip muffin every day before work. This was before I started running, before I was eating healthier, and way before I lost sixty pounds. Yes, that is a lot of weight and yes, I realize I was a fat ass…thanks for reminding me.
As part of my morning routine, I’d get off the train, hit the convenience store and then head to work. Every day it would feel like forever waiting on that damn line in the store, but it was right across the street and you kinda get used to it after a while. When I say it was a long line, I mean like twenty people on the line long winding throughout the store. Picture a conga line doing the mannequin challenge.
Fast forward to the new and improved, skinny me getting bottled water and a protein bar! As I was almost at the register for my turn to pay, I made the amateur mistake of turning my head to check out the candy display and see if I should tempt myself with some delectable Swedish Fish (the only seafood that I eat). Before I knew it, the cashier was screaming out “Next. Next. Next customer. Nex…WHOA!!! WHY YOU NO FAT NO MORE!!!!!!” A hush came over the store as everyone looked to see who she was talking about. Of course I turned away from the candy and momentarily though about dropping my water and protein bar to sprint out the front door, but she waved me over to her and shouted “COME ON!” I was terrified that she’d start screaming even louder or I would have let someone else go ahead of me while she continued on just as loud. “I can’t believe you no fat no more! What happened? You so different?” she exclaimed as loudly as she possibly could. I threw money at her to try and distract her and get her to shut up but it was to no avail. I tried my best to pretend like I didn’t hear her shouting and just smiled without looking back at the line of tittering patrons waiting their turn behind me wondering just how fat I actually was since I didn’t look all that good now…A normal person would never go back into a store after that, but did I mention that it was directly across the street? I don’t care if she started shouting “Run Fat Boy Run” while throwing Ring Dings at me – the OCD wasn’t letting me break my routine for anything…
Flash forward a few months later to a very stressful, meeting-filled day, and I was in dire need of some comfort food. When life beats me down, food always makes it better so I headed over to the bodega. I know you’re thinking that’s not a healthy response to stress and that’s exactly how eating disorders start, but nobody likes a know it all! As I was searching the displays for something tasty to make everything all better, I decided that we were at defcon three and hit the deli counter for the only remedy: Bologna and cheese! It’s not something that I eat often, but it reminds me of when I was a little kid and always cheers me up. It also reminds me of a day when my sister Marlene ate almost two pounds of bologna forcing my poor little cousin to go to Sailing camp with nothing to eat for lunch. Just like Brooke Shields in the 80’s, she wasn’t one to let anything stand between her and her Boar’s Head. When questioned about her excessive Bologna intake, she defensively sneered “If you can’t feed me send me home!” Some people have happy Disney memories of their childhood, I have random Bologna fantasies: Tomato/Tomah-to.
So, I head over to the Deli counter and asked for bologna and cheese on a roll with a tiny bit of mayonnaise. I like my sandwich to be dry and by that I mean so dry that you’ll actually start to cough. I really don’t like mayo, but a little drop here and there is OK. How is it that no one in the entire service industry is able to comprehend what the word “little” means when ordering food? I usually don’t even bother ordering mayo because people never listen and you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. Ask for a little ice and the cup is full; ask for a “little” dressing on your salad and you’ll be calling in the Coast Guard because the lettuce starts to look like little boats drowning in the ocean.
My friend Max was with me and mocking me as I ordered. He isn’t what you’d normally consider funny, but proceeded to ask the counter attendants if they also thought it was as ridiculous as he did that my name was Tony and I was ordering bologna. All of a sudden three guys that don’t understand 95% of the language were hysterical laughing and saying it back to each other “Tony Baloney” while pointing at me. I find it so interesting that in the English language there are so many vital and beautiful words or phrases that one can learn, but the takeaway here was “Tony Baloney!” Now a normal person would have maintained some level of dignity and got the hell out of that bodega, but I really wanted that sandwich and they were right across the street…
In hindsight, maybe heading to the place where random cashiers shout about how fat I am isn’t the best place to make me feel better on a stressful day. No one said I was a quick learner, but I got the message now!