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You Can Learn A Lot In Line At The Store

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

I’m standing in line the other day with two items in hand.  In front of me are 11 others, baskets heaving with groceries, toilet paper, Justin Beiber CD’s and $5 videos.  More than once I’ve found myself on their side of this scene (minus the Beiber CD’s, of course-that would just be creepy).  I’d notice the guy or gal behind me with just a couple of items and would happily let them go ahead of me.  However, this same courtesy was not extended to me by the patrons who’d managed to get to check-out lane 11 ahead of me.  13 and 17 weren’t any better, so I stayed put.  Being the talkative and somewhat combative soul that I am, craving a lively conversation while debating over the peanuts, I could not help but catch the middle of the conversation going on behind me.  “He needs to send us some more stimulus money”, a woman declared.  “Hell yeah!  I’m only getting $2,400 back on my taxes this year and that ain’t gonna cut it!”, said the man.  I just couldn’t take it any longer.  My sarcasm-on-high-octane switch clicked on.  I turned and said “Guess what I’m getting back this year?’  Both of them were waiting with baited breath, I could tell.  I took an appropriate pause and said “not one lousy dime.”  “Why?”, the woman asked.  “Well, you see, my wife and I both work and for some stupid reason, we pay taxes all year long and by the time April comes ’round they want even more from us!  I got two kids in school, one headed to college, one’s gonna need braces soon, I got the house payment, insurance and oh, those stupid doctor bills that just keep piling on up on us!  What are we gonna do?”  “I hear ya!”, said the man.  “What do y’all do for a living?” , I asked my new found buddies.  “Oh I don’t work no more”, said the nice lady.  “I got fired last year and I ain’t going back to work”.  Do tell.  I looked at the man, waiting for his response.  “I work for ______________ (insert name of fast food restaurant of your choice here.  Turns out he’s worked at most of them.)  “Oh, cool”, said I.  “Yeah but we need some more of that stimulus money”, he says.  By this time, there were just two people left ahead of me, so I decided it was now or never.  Now was my chance to educate these two on just how bad that would be and how they were coming into tax “refunds” in spite of paying nothing or next to it.  By the time I was done I couldn’t tell if the looks on their faces were looks of disgust or total confusion.  I’m guessing somewhere in the middle.  As I was about to pay out, the guy looks at me, half grinning and asks “Did you vote for Obama?”  “No sir”, I said.  “I voted for Sarah Palin, but that genius McCain cost her the election.”  I collected the change from my $20, and quietly walked away.

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