Sunday, June 22, 2008

bran muffin

One of my great pleasures in Seattle is strolling through the Pike Place Market early in the morning, just as the vendors are setting up.

No tourists yet, just old Asian women arranging flowers and strapping lads raking ice into place for the fish.


Today, a gaggle of tottering oldsters, all bedecked with tour company baseball caps, cameras, fanny packs, and brand new Rockport shoes had been disgorged by a bus, and they were shuffling hither and yon. My friends and I were trying to get through the line at Lowell's, so we could order our eggs and find a table by the window. There were any number of container barges and cruise ships and ferries to be monitored as we drank our coffee, and we were eager to get seated and start the stirring, sipping, and reflecting.

But no, the universe had other things in mind. A snarky cashier needed to be brought together with said oldsters, all of whom were hard of hearing. The cashier had a litany, and these congregants had not realized they were slacking in their half of the call and response:

"I want eggs."

"How do you want them?"

"And a bran muffin."

"THE EGGS, how do you want them?"

"And a cup of coffee."

"How do you want the EGGS?"

This was bad enough, but then disaster struck when a blueberry muffin was produced instead of a bran muffin. The wife of the man ordering had already walked off with the muffin, as he was trying to exchange it for a bran. Between the wife not understanding that she had the wrong muffin, the man not understanding that he had to return the blueberry if he wanted to get a bran, and the cashier not understanding that no amount of shouting and tattoo-wielding and piercing-clinking was going to intimidate the old man and his wife into understanding the dilemma, the line had snaked out the door and into the produce stand next door.

S. and I tried to ask the universe "how can we help you give the man his bran muffin so that he will get the !&@! out of the line?" (we really took the zen movie to heart), and eventually the universe caved in and spoke to the cashier: "Look, Chica, forget about the math. Two out, money for one in, it's all good."

All this time, "Disco Inferno" was playing. I thought about inviting the whole assembled congregation to forget about the muffins and join me in a little liturgical dance, but I refrained.

It was an oddly satisfying, if cognitively dissonant, soundtrack to the morning.

No comments: