It starts like a normal trip to the drug store. You're in a bit of a hurry but nothing too pressing, just class in ten minutes. Plenty of time. You scan the checkout line when you enter. It looks good, only one cashier but nobody in line. This should be an in-and-out trip. "Nice," you mumble and congratulate yourself on a well-executed trip to the drug store. You whirl through the aisles, grabbing a bottle of Axe shower gel here, some notebooks there, maybe even a Nutrageous to celebrate your impeccable timing and store selection. You've got an armful of goods and you're making a beeline for the register when you see her, and your heart falls.
You knew it was too good to be true. You knew you couldn't make it in and out of the drug store in under ten minutes. CVS, Duane Reade, Walgreens, it doesn't matter; she'll be there. You sigh in defeat because you know it's going to be at least ten minutes before you see the light of day again. You sigh in defeat because you're stuck in line behind Old Woman At The Drug Store.
Old women go to the drug store for one reason and one reason only: to complain.
Their first target is usually the 16 year-old cashier; a kid who, let's face it, probably doesn't enjoy his job already. She dumps out the contents of a bag on the counter and demands refunds for at least twenty items. These items, of course, were bought when she visited the drug store yesterday to return her purchases from two days ago. She's got 50 cent nail clippers in there she swears don't work, a half eaten can of tuna fish she claims was bad when she opened it and, sadly, a birthday card for her cat who died last night. When the clerk explains that she'll need a receipt, the old woman will fly into a rage about how "you kids don't have any respect" and how in her day they "knew a thing or two about customer service." She'll unload all her troubles, all her fears about a world changing too fast for her to keep up with, on this half-asleep 16 year-old who's only working this job because his Dad found weed in his dresser.
But it doesn't end there. After she's re-packed all her previous purchases, the old woman will place three small items on the counter for the now-irritated clerk to ring up. He'll scan the three items in and tell the old woman a total. "That'll be $3.67, please." This, of course, is unacceptable. In her head, the old woman has convinced herself that one of her items is on sale. Of course, it would save her no more than 20 cents, if it were even on sale. If it were ever on sale, actually, since although she can't remember where she parked the car, the old woman can remember which kind of toilet paper was 10% off three weeks ago. Her tirade will culminate in a blinding hail of angry threats directed at cashier who will promptly call his manager over to help him. The manager, mind you, has been nowhere to be found all this time you've been waiting in line behind the old woman, but he's here now, ready to help.
But we're not done yet.
After the manager has corrected the price of her purchase and calmed her down sufficiently he'll be on his way. You, still standing there with an armful of purchases and now five minutes late to class, will have to weather one more terrible, terrible storm before it's your turn to cash out. "OK, your total is now $3.47, ma'am," the cashier will mutter. The old woman will smile because, to her, this is a major victory, and then pull out her brand new debit card. She's never used it before but hey, there's a first time for everything. Unfortunately, you'll be standing behind her for this first time. Watch in stunned, aggravated silence while she swipes and re-swipes the card, asks what a PIN is, mistakenly punches in her social security number, asks for help and then claims she "knows how to do it," calls her daughter to get her PIN number, and, finally, lets the cashier do it for her. Then, after some mumbling about how things used to be easier "back when", she leaves.