“Wanna buy some Girl Scout cookies?” asked the intimidating 8 year old girl, as I approached the grocery store entrance.
“No, thanks,” I responded.
“Come on,” she persisted. “It’s freezing out here. Buy some thin mints.”
“I really can’t. I don’t care for thin mints,” I said.
“Who doesn’t like thin mints? An idiot, that’s who.”
“What did you say to me?” I said, shocked at her accusation.
“Have a nice day.”
“No, you called me an idiot.”
“What? No way!” she responded. “I’m just a little girl. Mom, this guy thinks I called him an idiot.”
The mom narrowed her eyes at me, so I hurried into the store as fast as I could, relieved she didn’t follow.
The store is configured in a way that allows you to peer through the tinted glass from the end of each aisle, out onto the parking lot where the gaggle of girl scouts were pushing their products. This allowed me to run reconnaissance every few minutes. Seeing that the girls were still there, bullying my fellow adults, I was able to slip down the next aisle and continue delaying the inevitable confrontation that I knew was coming.
As I collected the last of the required items on my list, I proceeded to the checkout line. At this point, I was faced with three options. The first option was to head back to the front lines and run the risk of coming face to face with the mean Girl Scout pusher. This was not an appealing option. The second option was to ask the cashier if they had a back entrance I could use. This was the cowardly option, but no more cowardly than the third option, which was to wait them out from the safety of the store. Maybe the kid had homework to do and wouldn’t be staying very long.
In line behind me was a middle-aged man whose face seemed to express the same bewilderment as mine.
“Did you have a confrontation with the girl scouts, too?” I asked.
“Yeah. They called me ‘fatty,’” he responded, still shell shocked.
I asked him how long he had been hiding in the store.
“Wow,” I said, shocked.
“The produce person began looking at me suspiciously as I inspected the peaches, but I was just stalling for time. I’m the victim here!”
“That’s terrible,” I said.
“My wife keeps calling me, wondering where I am,” he retorted. “She probably thinks I’m having an affair.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said.
I patted him on the back and told him we’d get through this, together. Somehow, some way.
As I paid the cashier, something unthinkable happened. The mean Girl Scout entered the store with two of her mean Girl Scout friends and one of their moms. I ducked behind the bottled water display as they passed by on the other side. I heard the mean one commenting snidely about a “rude, balding man who was too good for thin mints.” The other girls snickered. Surely, she was referring to me . . .
I had better things to do, however, than to suffer from hurt feelings. This was my chance to make a run for it!
I waited until they went down the toy aisle, and I hurriedly slid by, relieved and somewhat annoyed that I was made to feel like the bad guy in all of this.
I couldn’t save my middle-aged friend, though. He was still caught in line, because he was paying by check. (Who does that anymore?) We acknowledged each other as I fled the scene. A tear formed in his eye.
I made it to the sunny, other side. I was free!
“Hi, sir,” came the little voice behind me. “Would you like to buy some Tagalongs?”
How many of these damn girl scouts are in this parking lot? I thought to myself. “Uh, no thanks, sweetheart,” I said. “I bought some from my daughter, who is also a Girl Scout,” I fibbed, pleased at my quick thinking abilities.
“Oh, yeah? What troop is she in?”
“That’s not an actual troop. You should be more honest,” she said. “You probably don’t even have a daughter.”
“I do have a daughter,” I countered. “She was never a Girl Scout, though.”
The girl shook her head disapprovingly.
I walked away, quietly.
I’m not sure what happened to the middle-aged man who’d been in line behind me. I have the feeling he is out there somewhere, surrounded by 658 boxes of thin mints.