I pop into Haggen’s to do a little shopping, but before I start checking off my list and marching the aisles like I mean it, I stop by the Chinese food counter and order a small container of honey-glazed chicken. If you’ve never had Haggen’s honey-glazed chicken, you probably shouldn’t be giving me those looks.
The boy who scoops my chicken asks me if I want any sauce.
“Sure,” I say. “How about some hot mustard?”
He’s “down with that.” But he drops my packet of hot mustard on the floor before he can hand it to me. Glancing around wildly, he picks it up and asks me in a slow, confused tone, “Uh … Do you still want this?”
It’s clear I’ve presented him with a scenario not covered in his employee manual. At no point in his training had he been prepared for dropped hot mustard packets.
“Yes,” I say. “I still want it.”
I leave the startled Chinese food counter boy and continue shopping. Eventually, when my cart complains, I maneuver the mound to the checkout counter. There I stumble straight into a flirty spat between a tall, gangly boy and a short, giggly girl. The two banter while I fumble for my Haggen’s “special shopper” card.
“Oh, yes I am,” she answers.
“Nuh huh. John is the boss of me.”
“But I’m the boss of the front end, so I’m the boss of you.”
“Well, I’m not doing what you say,” he tells her.
“I hate you,” she says back, with a giggle that says she doesn’t.
“Well, if you hate me, why are you talking to me?”
She squeals and grins and slaps his arm.
“Original, Brittany. That was real original.”
I stand there captive, waiting for my total, and realize that one of two things has happened. Either the world is now being run by 12-year olds, or I’ve gotten old.
That’s an easy choice. Obviously, the 12-year olds have taken over.