Leah Cage knew she had made a mistake the moment she stepped into Bargain-O-Rama.
“Ick, poor folk and their screaming children,” she said as she stared into the sea of working class people out foraging for their weekly supply of grub. “Melanie had better hurry up and get her shampoo. I hate being in places like this.”
Normally Leah wouldn’t step inside a discount grocery store. She always shopped at one of the more expensive chain stores in town, but her friend Melanie was running low on shampoo and, according to the weekly sales flyers, Bargain-O-Rama had the best deal in town on her brand, so she asked Leah if they could stop there on their way home from scrapbooking class. The city was in the middle of a record breaking heat wave, which made waiting in the car impossible. If she didn’t want to die from heat stroke, Leah was going to have to go inside the air conditioned confines of Bargain-O-Rama.
Leah’s aversion to Bargain-O-Rama had nothing to do with its drab décor or any snobbery on her part over its lower quality cuts of meat. It was the whole inconvenience of the place that turned her off. Her store opened at 7 a.m., a whole hour earlier than this place, which gave her plenty of time to go in, get what she needed, and then high tail it out of there before the crowds arrived. The aisles were wider at her store as well, which meant she never got trapped by the people who felt the need to block her path while they figured out which brand of sugary cereal they wanted this week. Plus she hated having to put a quarter in to get a cart and then line the cart back up properly when she was done shopping in order to retrieve her coin. She felt that implied Bargain-O-Rama saw its customers as nothing more than grocery cart thieves. If that was indeed the type of clientele it attracted, why would she want to shop there?
Leah doesn’t want to hang around grocery cart thieves. She also doesn’t want to hang around their screaming children; especially the little snot standing in line in front of her and Melanie at the check out.
“You never buy anything I want! It’s always what you want!” the child yelled at his mother. “Why can’t I have a chocolate bar?!”
Leah closed her eyes and tried to block the brat out of her mind as she repeated the following mantra: “Soon we will be out of here. Soon we will be out of here.” Only Leah and Melanie weren’t going anywhere soon. The kid’s mother had twenty items in her cart – clearly ignoring the “1-13 Items” sign above her head, and she wasn’t exactly breaking any speed records to load those items onto the conveyor belt.
“Fine, I will get you a chocolate bar. Here,” the mother said adding a plain bar of milk chocolate to her pile.
“I don’t want that one! I want the one with peanuts!” the ungrateful child shouted back.
“Oh my God, kid! Your mother just rewarded you for acting like a spoiled brat and that’s how you thank her?
Yup, Leah said that. Out loud. With her outside voice, too. Even the people the next aisle over who weren’t being held up by the family from hell stopped and looked at her.
“Don’t you talk to my child that way,” the mother said.
“Then get it under control.”
“You have a lot of nerve, telling me how to parent my child.”
“I used to have a lot of nerve, only your kid just frayed the last one.”
“Um Leah, let’s just go,” her friend, Melanie interjected. “I”ll get my shampoo some other time.”
“You definitely should,” Leah said. “Do you know when would be a really great time? At seven in the morning. Kids are still at home then.”
Melanie never asked Leah to stop off anywhere with her again.