SAN ANTONIO – Click, clack, click –– “that’ll be $3.84, sir.” The annoying sound of the register was louder than the kid yelling at the top of his lungs because his mother wouldn’t buy him a pastry.
Jesus, a cup of coffee almost five bucks. This is America. I opened my wallet and pulled out the last five-dollar bill I had left and politely told her to keep the change.
The way I looked at it, I figured the cup of coffee would save me from the small pulsing headache I had from the night before. I went to celebrate a friend’s birthday and was only going to be there for a couple of drinks. Well, you know how that story goes.
Shortly after, I walked out of the coffee shop and got into my car. The weather was overcast but the sun began to crest and all I could see was blue skies.
Pure bliss, the sights and sounds of all the traffic around me. I had partially written down the grocery list I had mentally stored as my alarm clock was going off early in the morning.
The cars whizzed by to a slow crawl, people cutting each other off left and right to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Luckily, my exit was the next one up. I was almost at my destination, the luxurious TJ Maxx and HomeGoods combo.
I needed a new belt. Walking through the entrance, the lights were blinding. The line was already long wrapped around up-front items meant to be a last-ditch effort for you to throw in your basket.
“Is there no self-checkout?” I overheard an older gentleman say. “There are 16 registers and only half are being used, what’s the point,” said another in line.
I really didn’t care. I was there, for one thing, that damn belt. TJ Maxx is one of those stores that kind of has a little bit of everything. Reduced price designer clothing, weird accessories that nobody ever buys, out of season decorations, and cosmetics that almost look expired.
“Keep walking, you have one thing to buy. That’s it, now go.” These thoughts kept creeping up into my head. Whatever. Ok, I did see some shirts that looked nice. Nope, I have way too many shirts.
“Ok, this sweater looks nice.” NO. I have too many sweaters and I don’t even wear half of them. Much like how TJ Maxx only utilized eight of its 16 registers. Anxiety was starting to follow right behind me but I knew I had to buy this belt and leave.
There were two clearance racks and a rack of hat accessories standing between myself and the giant rack of belts. Lots of racks. Suddenly, there it was, all types of belts in all kinds of sizes in all sorts of brands.
Three times, I circled the rack of belts. “Are people looking at me right now? Hmm, can they see me analyzing these belts? Is that weird?”
Damn thoughts, there they go again. Finally, there it was. The one belt that was reasonably priced. 10 whole dollars plus tax and it was reversible. Win. I did the one thing that people typically do when they pretend to wear it and measure it. “Ok, just measure it quickly, don’t be awkward. Hurry up, man.”
Ok, all done. I walked past the fragrance rack and saw a man analyzing the cologne selection, he was analyzing each box. “See, not the only one.” The curiosity, of course, piqued my interest.
Slowly walking up to the rack, I tucked the belt under my arm, and made way to the fragrance rack and picked up one of the cologne boxes. CKFree, read the box.
Gosh, I remember when this one came out. My ex-girlfriend bought it for me. “Good times,” I thought to myself again. The older man kept analyzing the boxes. So, I picked up two and did the same thing. He glanced over at me and returned to analyzing boxes. I put both boxes down and walked away.
As I approached the t-shirt rack, I did a quick turnaround and saw the old man analyzing the two same boxes of cologne I previously picked up. I laughed to myself, the woman to the right of me looked at me funny because she saw me laughing all by my lonesome.
It didn’t matter, had what I wanted in hand and was ready to go until I saw that damned globe. The globe stood about 10-inches tall, was black with silver geography all over it. “Holy shit, it’s 10 bucks.”
There I was, 30-year-old dude, analyzing this miniature globe. It was perfect. The end table at the end of my sectional had a couple of books but I immediately knew that was the perfect place for it.
Belt and globe in hand, I was at the tail end of the purchasing line. There they were, 16 registers with only half of them being used. I was standing in line and saw small racks of random junk that TJ Maxx tries to get you to buy before you get to the register. Socks, brushes, candy, chips from brands that nobody knows, phone cases, and more.
This younger couple in front of me, mid-twenties had a cart full of dog items. The guy kept squeezing this dog toy. “SQUEAK!” I remember how vividly and loudly that damn squeaker was.
His girlfriend or whoever she was looked just as annoyed as she looked around while ignoring the guy. Slowly we all marched toward the registers. “Yes, now I can start thinking of what I want for lunch.”
The dog couple was next in line and the guy looked at me and my globe. “That’s a cool globe.”
“Thanks, man.” I retorted. “My girlfriend’s uncle has a giant globe that opens up and has liquor bottles and glasses in it.”
“That is really cool, man. I’m just getting this for my end table at home.”
Next customer to register four, please. The robotic voice echoed loudly. “See you later, man.”
“You too, dude!” I said excitedly, not because I was next, but because I didn’t know what else to say about the guy’s girlfriend’s uncle globe decanter set. I am not a fan of awkward small talk, especially when I want to get in and go.
I walked up to my register and the cashier tried to sell me on the TJ Maxx credit card. Nope. All good, two credit cards is good enough for me. “Receipt in the bag, sir?” I nodded my head and started walking toward the exit. A new belt and a new globe for my end table.
“Is this adulting?” Yes, I mentally replied. Not an overly exciting Saturday to some but an exciting one for me to be sure.
Got in my car, then I remembered, “Oh shit, I still have to go to the grocery store.”
Dear reader, enjoyed my day in the life? Drop me a line or tweet me: @realjamiebee
About the Author: Jamie Barrientos is a professional writer, passionate about the arts, and a certified brunch fiend. Drop me a line on Twitter or on here.