I am no longer fit to go out in public. I am not sure how it started; if it's symptom related, brought on by reclusiveness, or just plain stimulus overload, but I have no tolerance. People (especially crowds) now seem dangerous and upsetting, bright lights hurt my eyes, and loud noises--even tiny, itty bitty ones--scare me out of skin.
In pain today (horrible neck pain to be exact), I drove over to Massage Envy looking for relief. The massage was amazing (and totally helpful). Even better was the environment; soft lights, beige walls, quiet music with birds chirping. It was heaven. As I sat in the holding room, I had no interest in reading. For 10 holy minutes, I listened, waited, and cried.
Afterwards, feeling relaxed and knowing we needed a few things from the store--lemons, mixed greens, strawberries--I decided to stop by Whole Foods (they are in the same shopping plaza). Can you say mistake?? Can you say BIG mistake??!?!? The store was beyond crowded and, the minute I walked in, I started feeling overwhelmed.
Doing breathing exercises, I maneuvered my little cart past the blackberries towards the seafood section. They had beautiful Key West jumbo shrimp on sale; bright, pink, and delicate. I asked if they could steam them for me. They asked if I could wait 20 minutes. I agreed.
It was a long 20 minutes. I carefully stayed close to walls to avoid the swarm; people running around, old women accidentally stealing shopping carts, kids screaming, an Asian doctor lecturing section managers on product placement. With 60 seconds to spare, I was back to pick up dinner.
In front of me, an unfamiliar butcher, worked to cleave a raw fish in two--separating its head from its body.
"You want one head?" he asked the guy ahead of me.
"Just one," the guy answered.
I couldn't take my eyes off of those slimy gloves. With five people now behind me, it became my turn.
Me: "I'm here to pick up the steamed shrimp."
As he fumbled around in the steam box, he looked totally confused. He picked up one tray, then another, then another. Minutes later (felt like hours), he removed my "colander", shook it slightly, and took it to the back sink.
In horror, I watched his hands--the same gross gloved hands that were just covered in raw fish heads and fish guts--dig into my shrimp and start loading them into a to-go container.
Me (sounding a little like Tony out of the Sopranos): Hey...hey buddy. What are you doing??!?!?! Aren't those the same hands that just touched raw fish?!?!
Him (totally confused): What? What do you want?
Me (now yelling across the counter and making a scene): You can't touch cooked food with hands that handled raw fish. You're going to make me sick. I can't eat that.
Him (still missing the boat): What??? You don't want it?
Me (now the center of a captive audience): No. No, I don't want it! Is your manager around?
He points his slimy finger towards the front of the store. As I walk through the crowd, several people make eye contact and nod sympathetically.
Now, miserable and ready to cry, I reach the customer service desk.
Me (completely revved up and probably not making much sense): I just ordered...(huffing and out of breath)... steamed shrimp...from your seafood counter and after waiting....(gasp).... 20 minutes, after walking around this store, ....when I went to pick it up, your guy touched my cooked shrimp with his dirty gloves--the sames gloves he just used to butcher someone else's fish and sort through fish guts.
Her (virtually unfazed): Uh...huh. Well he should have used new gloves. Sorry about that. Is there something you want me to do? Do you want a new order of shrimp?
Me (in my Ally McBeal world): Yes. I want a new order of shrimp. I want it for free and I want it delivered it to my house...along with the rest of the groceries so I don't have to wait anymore in this crazy, over crowded store. And what do I want you to do about it? Arrest him. Beat him too death for his stupidity. Tell me you're sorry for wasting my time. Say there's no charge for any of my groceries. Tell me you are mortified that this happened because you can't imagine how hard it is to get out, get what I need, and feel this bad. Tell me you will personally prepare my shrimp because safe food handling is your top priority and you care about my health and safety. Tell me you don't want me to leave until you've done whatever necessary to regain my trust and my confidence in your business.
Me (in the real world): No. I don't want a new order of shrimp...especially if he's making it. I also don't want to wait another 20 minutes to have it. There's a reason people shop here you know... (fighting back the tears) I just want him to be stopped. I want you to educate him. Clearly he doesn't understand safe food handling and he's going to make somebody sick.
Her (really not concerned): Ok. Thanks for telling me.
Altered Today: Daydreaming about what I would like to say, keeping most of my thoughts to myself, shopping habits (no more going it alone)