Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bad scene at the butcher counter

When I buy chicken at the grocery store, I go through this whole mental flowchart to determine whether I'm going to get it from the butcher or just pick up the pre-packaged ones in the meat case.
Is it the same price either way? It usually is, but sometimes one or the other is cheaper, and that makes the decision for me.
Does the butcher look like he's in a good mood? If I have been teaching algebra to grouchy teenagers all day, I sometimes can't handle one more unpleasant interaction.
Does the chicken look good?  If there's a lot of fat, blood, or other visible grossness, I'll take the other option.

How much chicken do I have time to deal with when I get home?  If I only need a little chicken, I don't want a giant family pack from the meat case that I'm going to have to divide up and freeze.
Do I need butcher paper?  I love butcher paper.  It's thick and durable and useful for lots of things.  

Yesterday, the price of chicken breasts was $1.99/pound at the meat case and at the butcher counter. The butcher looked jolly enough, the chicken looked good enough, and I was feeling social enough.  I only needed two, so I didn't want a big package.  I remembered that someone recently threw away my stash of butcher paper.  So my decision was clear and easy.  I approached the counter, asked for what I needed, and watched happily as he wrapped it in a big hunk of butcher paper.  That's when it happened.

He extended my little package to me, and I reached for it.  There were several other customers close by, and the butcher had a booming voice.  He said, "Here are your two breasts!" Our hands touched as I took the chicken from him right at the moment he made that proclamation. The look on his face as he realized what he'd just said made it clear that it was a very awkward moment for both of us.  I looked down and scurried away without making eye contact with anyone.

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