Saturday, October 28, 2006

Willard St. Market

Anatomy of a Transaction

Probably the first thing you'll notice about this store is that it smells like a damp ashtray. Very homey. Should you have found your way into this store because you wanted to purchase, oh I don't know, let's say "a cold drink", the very next thing you should notice is the rack of "questionable" sex magazines blocking immediate access to the beverage coolers. But once you have found your way to the coolers and have found your drink, you might then be tempted to take the most direct route back to the register. That is a novice move, my friend. You'll find the main aisle of the store mostly blocked with a few boxes and general things you need to step around/over. No one will be anywhere in sight, if you're wondering who put those boxes there, how long they've been there, or what the hell they are there for.

Arriving at the register, it's possible that you'll find a clear section of the counter on which you can place the soon-to-be-yours beverage. The elderly foreign woman will be with you in a second. She is not asleep with her mouth open. She is on the phone. Your wait should be no longer than 15 seconds, tops. No eye contact will be made during this time. Her head will be aiming squarely at the floor, at the space directly in front of her feet. At this point, you may wish to avert your eyes from the sight of 68-year-old camel toe. This step is optional.

Though this stage of the transaction is a bit unclear, in the example of a 15oz., single-serving bottle of juice, it can only be assumed that she will ring in whatever price comes to mind. Keeping in mind that it would be bad to sell items at a loss, a minimum of $1.75 will ring up. This is where the lack of eye contact starts to make sense since most of us, to some degree, are capable of the emotion known as "shame" and eye contact is an inhibitor in this regard.

At this point, it should ring true that you are in an immense hurry, since the instinct is to orate, "A dollar-fucking-seventy-FIVE?! What... the... FUCK?!", leave the beverage on the counter, kick something over, and head for the door. Yes, you have already tolerated quite a bit more than you might think would be allowed in a so-called "free market economy", but you are here because you really need this juice for some reason, and you don't have another second to spare. Willard Street Market knows this. It is the premise upon which their entire business model is based. To continue the transaction, simply place your two dollars on the counter.

Once the woman who sounds, perhaps, Polish, barks some more angry gibberish into the magical voice box which she obviously finds so fascinating, she will hold out a quarter. Take the offering. It is for you. It is a concession to a time-honored custom known as "change". I know she is still not looking at you. I know she will not interrupt her call. I know it's difficult to prove that she ever even saw you. There will be no exchange of pleasantries. It is time for you to leave.

No comments: