I’ve had my share of verbal slaps over the decades but nothing prepared me for the six-word pummeling I got at the Trader Joe’s checkout counter.
I’ve worked around cops, plumbers, soldiers and night city editors – an interesting lot that never hesitated to use colorful, often explicit, language that generally contained an anatomical reference or two. I’ve even heard some words used as nouns, verbs, and adjectives all in the same sentence.
Ironically, the city editors were probably the worst offenders although I once had a basketball coach who mangled the English language with enthusiasm, vigor and at high decibels.
So, by now you’d think I’d pretty much be immune to verbal shock. But that’s one of life’s joys, I guess. About the time you think you’ve got it figured out, something like this happens.
We’d just finished checking out and the clerk, a young man who’s probably very nice and loves his mother, swung the last bulging bag of groceries into the cart, turned, and delivered the coup de grace, a six-word dagger to my self-image. He smiled, nodded, and asked:
“Need help out with that, sir?”