There I stood in front of the long row of sinus and cold remedies, searching for the magic pill to cure my husband’s wretched cough. Delsym. Not the generic because that one didn’t work, but the real thing. But which one? Delsym 12 hour? Grape or . . . Oh, Delsum Cough and Cold with an antihistamine. In liquid or, oh, they have pills . . .
And as I reached for the box with the liquid, three of the lightweight boxes with pills tumbled over, domino-style, and fell three stories to the floor. Suddenly, a nicely dressed man of apparent East Indian descent, covered the distance between us, dropped to one knee before me, and quickly gathered up the fallen merchandise. As he replaced them perfectly on the shelf before me, I smiled gratefully and told him how kind it was of him to help. He smiled back.
“You are so welcome,” he replied in his lilting accent.
“Well, I really appreciate it,” I said again, and turned to decide on the meds. But he had more to say.
“May I ask you a favor,” I think he said, since his accent was stronger than the Delsym. “Would you be interested in improving yourself?”
My heart sank. And I thought he was just being a gentleman. I should have known.
“I am offering you,” he continued without pause, “an eight hour program to improve yourself.”
“No thank you,” I smiled, wishing I’d knocked more boxes onto the floor so I had time to escape.
He was persistent. I thought “no” was the universal word for “no” in every language, but apparently not here on the aisle of stupid.
“You do not have to sell something to someone,” he pressed on, “but rather you can make money and be a big improvement to yourself.” And he smiled his best smile.
“No Thank You,” I said again, with no appreciation intended.
“But is there something you need?” he insisted. “Tell me, what is it that you need?”
Oh, the opportunities to say what I’m really thinking. Maintain. Maintain. Reign in the anger and let loose the sarcasm.
“Well,” I offered clearly and in my best English, “what I need right now is to purchase some cough medicine for my husband.” And I smiled my best smile.
“Oh!” he laughed. And then he became serious. “So you don’t want to hear how to find self improvement?”
NOooooooooo!!! This is a GROCERY store!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I yelled. In my mind. I grabbed the Delsym and left the alternate universe of aisle three. Then I drove home to the sick ward and told my patient what happened.
“I just spent thirty-eight dollars getting a pedicure to improve myself! My hair looks good. I’m wearing makeup. If he was trying to point out that I’m pudgy, that’s not a very good marketing strategy!” I fumed. “Why do I always attract the weirdos?”
Which made my husband laugh. So I guess it was worth the insult I just suffered in the pharmacy. After all, laughter is the best medicine.