The Germ Freak

Standing behind a gentleman at the Whole Foods on Seventh Ave. His transaction is taking longer than normal. He’s a small guy, bearded. Geeky comes to mind. He’s nervously fiddling through his front pockets, looking for something. Money I assume. The little Asian girl behind the counter smiles and waits patiently. He’s mumbling as he’s looking, aware there’s a line behind him. I’m annoyed, but quiet.
“As you can imagine, not having enough bags is my worst nightmare,” he tells the girl. She smiles.
It’s a strange comment, and for a moment I think that perhaps he’s talking about picking up after his dog. During any given stroll down the street you’ll see some poor fool with a dog kneel down and collect their pup’s poop with a plastic bag. It’s a lovely spectacle and can render even the most attractive folks completely unappealing. Perhaps that’s what he meant.
That hypothesis dies instantly though, when I realize he was serious. Not having enough bags is definitely his worst nightmare. He’s got one bag on each hand, secured with a rubber band. And indeed, he’s been rifling though his pockets for money as I had thought. What I hadn’t realized was that each bill was individually wrapped in a plastic bag. The reason for the delay was he had found an individually wrapped twenty and an individually wrapped one in his pockets, but needed another dollar bill.
While he searched I desperately tried to get the attention of my wife, who was in a nearby aisle. I caught her eye, but was unable to convey the fact that someone with an amazing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder was delaying my purchase of wheat germ.
He finally found the second bill, wrapped in plastic of course, and presented the still-smiling cashier with the three bags. She opened them, placed the bills in the till and rang up the transaction. Which wasn’t complete yet.
“Here’s your quarter,” she said.
“Oh, no, that’s okay,” he replied, waving it away.
She offered him the receipt.
“No thanks,” he said.
He moved away from the counter but continued to look through a bag of bags. I have no idea why. As we headed towards the door, he was still engaged in some sort of bag operations, BagOps as they’d be called in the military, but I decided not to stare. In what must have certainly been his second worst nightmare, he dropped the box of whatever it was he had purchased on the floor.
A whimper of an “Oh.”
I didn’t stick around for the conclusion. I wanted to get my wife outside where I could describe what I had just seen, to which her only response was, “Why does he not just buy gloves?”