Two seemingly unrelated events:
A funny thing happened in the elevator at work the other day. I had just gotten my coffee from the Starbucks across the street and was taking the lift up to my office. I shared the elevator with another guy and we were getting off on the same floor. Suddenly, he asked “Jeff, you seem the right person to ask. Is it one button or two?” as he demonstrated on his sport coat.
I hesitated for a moment. Thinking. Thinking. “Do I know you?” I replied. I’m usually not so blunt when a stranger asks me a question out of the blue but everything seemed so odd: the elevator, the timing, and, of course, the question. I simply couldn’t think of any other way to respond. He apologized for being so familiar. He was an art history fellow here at the museum and he reminded me we had talked in the men’s room about our identical water bottles. Now, that would be quite a normal interaction for me. I have no qualms about breaking the usual bathroom silence. I remembered. I’d noticed his chartreuse water bottle and felt compelled to say tell that stranger that I had the same, to the color! “Too familiar? Not a problem,” I replied (how could I say anything but?). And as we exited the elevator I said, “One. Definitely one.” My reputation as a fashion icon seems to be growing beyond my control.
Later that day I saw him entering the building and asked “How’d it go? Was I right?” “Perfect,” was his reply.
• • •
Yesterday, while shopping at Trader Joe’s I stopped to try some of the samples they’re always offering. There’s always a crew member behind the counter preparing and dishing them out (all TJ’s employees are “crew members” and the manager is always the “captain”). The freebie for the day was their cookie dough peanut butter on an apple slice. I had always wanted to taste that so I took one of the small paper cups they put them in.
“Oooh, it sweet. Too sweet for me.” I have a lot of trouble with many of Trader Joe’s seasonings. They over-salt most of their prepared foods and you’ll often find me commenting about it to any crew member who will listen. I’ve got to give them credit. Their answers are always consistent. Obviously, they’ve held numerous training sessions on how to respond to my comments. “We use salt as a preservative instead of chemicals.” And that shuts me up. What can I say? Too much salt or too many preservatives? Not a great choice either way.
So, as I downed my cookie dough peanut buttered apple I looked at the label while spouting one of my cynical comments about the sugar —natural cane sugar of course (everyone is so nice there, these comments seem to just effortlessly slide off of them). Suddenly the server started to laugh. As she did, she accidentally spit her own apple into the bowl of samples. I was embarrassed for her so I said “Don’t worry, I do that all the time.” (No I don’t. I’ve never worked at TJ’s and I’ve never spit out my apple slice after uncontrollable laughter. However, to balance the rest of my TJ karma, it just seemed the right thing to say.) In the first grade, while on a sleepover at my best friend Ron’s house I did snort milk when we couldn’t stop laughing. But, honestly, that was it.
I don’t even remember what I said that was so funny. But I could write a book about my weekly interactions at TJs.
It was a crazy week. Good crazy.