My father and I were in line at the local hardware store as a cashier in-training, her manager, and then his manager, all tried to figure out how to ring up our two plus bundles of redwood planks.
As we waited, hunched over our hoard of boards, an older gentleman with a roll of insulation walked up and we explained to him that it might be awhile since we had apparently befuddled the whole store with our “difficult” purchase. He seemed pleasant enough in demeanor, but his appearance was a bit disconcerting. He had a nose like a buzzard, ears like a bat and was pale of skin and bald in cranium. If he had been clad in black instead of a grey “Member’s Only” jacket, he would have been the spitting image of Nosferatu.
When my father was called up to sort out yet another conundrum for the cashier collective, it fell to me to make small talk with His Greyness. He asked if I was a builder and I said, “No, I’m just helping my dad.” I then said, “wow, we’re sure having great weather today.” To which he replied, “This whole country is run by billionaires and millionaires. It makes me sick.” “Oh yeah?” I replied. Now it was my turn to be befuddled. He explained to me how California was run by some shadow group of billionaires and how corporations donated money to buy the candidates they wanted in office. “I just wanted to talk about the nice weather!!!” I screamed inside. Nosferatu moved in closer and started in on how donations weren’t really donations. He was sucking the life out of this routine trip to the store. I looked to my father for help, but he just kept pointing animatedly back and forth from the bundles to the price tag. I tensed up inside and shifted awkwardly from foot to foot. In the distance, the cashier said, “It’s the price for each board.”
“No, it’s per bundle!” I yelled out. Nosferatu fell silent. The spell was broken and he edged away. “It’s the price per bundle,” I repeated again, desperately, as though I was chanting an incantation to ward off evil spirits.
As my father and I loaded the lumber into our vehicle, I told him the story. “I just wanted to talk about the weather,” I said. “I have a feeling he would have talked about it no matter what,” he replied. Nosferatu had an agenda.