Who can measure the despair and sorrow of an innocent caught in the tangle of a heartless throw-away text?
I can be quite literal at times. Perhaps it comes from being all too sincere and dewy-eyed in a cynical world of one-upmanship and sardonic sneers. Perhaps it comes from hoping to see the best in people. Always. Perhaps it comes from the exhaustion of attempting to explain the difference (and not-so-difference) between simile and metaphor to hundreds of students over the years. But yeah, it’s probably just laziness.
Anyhow. It happened in Trader Joe’s. I texted an innocent question, offering to “pick something up” for a friend. She (let’s call her Amy) accepted, and even gave a specific request and location of a needed item.
Now, I don’t make it to Trader Joe’s often. It’s kind of far for my narrow definition of close-enough, and I usually end up overshooting completely or turning into the Tick Tock Diner by accident. So you can imagine that my familiarity with its products and layout is limited. I don’t point this out as an excuse for my naiveté; it’s just a fact.
I did my own TJ’s shopping (mostly frozen tamales and mini-desserts), and then I went looking for Peace of Mind. Nothing. I asked a young man in a flowery vest about Trader Buddha’s Peace of Mind Bars. He directed me to try Whole Foods. “A lot of people get us mixed up with them. No offense.” I insisted, and showed him the text with the clarification, “I don’t think Whole Foods would call their product Trader Buddha.” I’m so logical. Nope. Nothing. He knew they didn’t carry it. In fact, he informed me, with a smirk, that Trader Joe’s doesn’t have numbered aisles.
As I checked out my frozen treats, I tried one more time with the cashier. Nope. Nothing.
Dejected, I had to admit defeat. And that’s when my trusting innocence was flattened.
But at least I got to work in a nice metaphor reference.