Imagine for a moment a thirty eight year old man with a full beard and balding hair dressed in a grey zip-up hoody with bulging pockets and too dirty blue jeans talking to a cute teenage girl about Pokemon cards. In television these situations end up on dateline on the internet they end up on pornhub. Neither situation was a good look for me, especially the latter, considering what I had in my pockets.
The clerk, Brenda, swiped my last item and said, “Do you have anything else?” She was looking at my pockets knowingly.
I didn’t have a real choice here. I couldn’t rob Walmart in broad daylight. All I could do was pull the condoms out of my pockets and dump them on the conveyor belt and try my hardest not to make eye contact with anyone. The girl stopped talking and stared at the condoms with a smirk. The woman behind her fell silent as well, her eyes probing me like she worked for ‘To catch a predator’. I fished back into my pocket for my ATM card, but when I pulled it out the card snagged on the inner lining of the pocket and fell to the ground.
Of course the girl picked it up.
“Tom, right?” She said, reading my name then proffering the card. My smile was more of a wince. I thanked her and slid the card through the scanner. It didn’t work.
Brenda said, “These are the new style of cards. You have to stick them in the slot below the card reader.”
I was sweating now. I followed her instructions and got that wrong the first time too. She said, “let me show you.” Then flipped the card around and put it in the right way.
To say that everyone was watching me would be an exaggeration. I didn’t know if anyone was watching, because I refused to lift my eyes higher than my feet. Old guys buying condoms is bad enough without getting little girls involved. And she was still completely involved.
“So, you’re really into pokemon, Tom? Other things too I guess.” The girl said. Then the woman behind her came unglued.