There's always a catch. Always.

It was just another day at the grocery store when I heard the distinctive screech of the intercom and a crackly voice call out: “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please! If you will kindly make your way to the back of the produce section at the end of aisle 17, we are about to hand out free gifts to our shoppers!”

This was unexpected. Is this what they do at Ralph’s every Wednesday night? I was slightly perturbed that perhaps I had been missing out on years’ worth of complimentary food. Like any other red-blooded American, I loves me some free stuff, so I instantly U-turned my way to aisle 17.

I didn’t have far to go, but by the time I reached the produce section, at least a dozen other carts and their eager owners were already waiting for their loot. I also noticed that I was a good 30 years younger than the other shoppers, and FYI, one sweet white-haired granny cut me off as she adroitly maneuvered her cart directly in front of the display counter.

Given that the display was rocking some serious movie premiere spotlights, I suddenly felt ill at ease regarding what was about to proceed. All I wanted was a free sample of whatever new flavored water I assumed they were trying to hype. What was with all the glitz and glamour? Must everything be for show in LA? That’s when the display lady made her entrance.

Display lady had a smile on her face that was much too joyous for 6:30 p.m. on a Wednesday night at Ralph’s. No way was she that happy to see us. Also, she didn’t have on a Ralph’s uniform, which further worried me. I began to suspect that my desire to get something for nothing was going to cost me.

“How is everybody doing tonight?”

The crowd gave a cool response, which only made her repeat her question. To avoid having to fake nice a third time, we mustered a decent yet insincere “good!”

Display lady then took out from behind the display counter a cantaloupe that had undergone some sort of Frankenstein-esque lobotomy. Though still intact, it had a series of V-shaped incisions along its exterior. This was our free gift? Produce rife with salmonella?

Confirming my worst fears, display lady then asked, “Who here loves fresh fruit?” I, for one, did not raise my hand, but several of my compatriots with no regard for their own safety did. That’s when display lady again surprised us with a monstrous creation from behind her counter of horrors. This time it was an oversized cucumber surgically reworked to resemble Jaws. I was equal parts awed by her cutting skills and terrified of what she would pull out next. I also came to the sad realization that I was just another sucker who was about to sit through this lady’s spiel to hock goods that were obviously not going to be free.

Remember the Ginsu knife? Or really I should put it this way: “Remember the Ginsu knife?” Because that was the next question out of her mouth. Seriously? That’s what this whole elaborate setup was for? I actually got duped into watching a Ginsu knife demonstration?

Apparently the company that made Ginsu knives has since retired the name. Why, I don’t know, since you’d think trading off such a famous brand would be a no-brainer. Regardless, now they’re calling their new knife the Master Cut 2. But because no one knows what the hell a Master Cut 2 is, they have to trap poor, naïve grocery shoppers who want free sh*t with their bait and switch tactics.

So for the next 15 minutes, I stood there in agony as display lady showed our group how the Master Cut 2 can cut through tomatoes, two-by-fours, and hammers. I swear. The woman made us watch as she sliced into a metal hammer head. Impressive. Most impressive. But I still ain’t gonna pay $29.99 for it.

I finally made my getaway when she asked who of our group liked BBQed steak. Given that I don’t eat beef, I feigned disgust at her obvious lack of respect for vegetarians and stormed away.

But to her credit, I did get my free stuff. It was a plastic thingamajig that apparently was responsible for the handiwork on that poor cantaloupe. So now I can perform my own deranged experiments on fruit. Totally worth the half-hour of my life that I will never get back.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


You hear me? You hear me now?Eavesdropping on other people’s conversations is fun. Though I have never tapped anyone’s home, I have on multiple occasions put my ear to a wall or door to get better acoustics. The best is when you catch random bits and pieces while standing in line at the airport or waiting for your drink at a bar. It’s a win-win situation. They don’t know me. I don’t know them. I will never see them again, so no matter what they say, I can’t hold it against them in the future.

Phone conversations are entirely different. Though people are just as likely to say ridiculous things over the phone, I’m amazed by how many people have uber private conversations via cell phone in completely public spaces. To make it all about me, it’s super awkward to listen to them. Last Halloween, my boyfriend and I had to suffer through a convo that some dude was having on the phone with his girlfriend in Party City. Because everyone was desperate to buy whatever cheaply made and overpriced costumes were still in stock, we were stuck in the checkout line for more than a half-hour as this guy professed his undying love for some chick. I’m all for being a lover and not a fighter, but I’m also an uptight American who would rather you keep in the bedroom.

Even worse is when someone’s arguing over the phone. You’d be surprised by how many of these conversations I’ve witnessed in Starbucks. Apparently paying $5 for coffee can make someone irritable. It’s hard to really know what’s going on in these conversations because both parties are working overtime to cut each other off, so all you really ever hear is “would you let me talk?” or “you’re not listening to me!” Perhaps the person on the other line isn’t listening, but I can guarantee you that everyone else is. The absolute worst, though, is when you are privy to a breakup happening over the phone.

Breaking up via phone is on my top five list of douchebaggery actions. Probably because it happened to me. If you don’t want to date someone anymore, that’s cool. But then man up and tell her face-to-face. Don’t call on a random Tuesday night and say, “My feelings for you have plateaued.” Not that that’s how it went down with me or anything.

Now most of the womenfolk I know are in complete agreement with me, so you can imagine my surprise when I overheard a chick doing the breaking up over the phone. I wasn’t at the airport, nor was I in Starbucks. I was simply jogging down my own street… and I could hear her a block away. You see, this lady wasn’t just ending a relationship; she was ENDING A RELATIONSHIP.


I could hear her screaming this single phrase over and over and over again. At first, I thought I was hearing a Lifetime movie through someone’s open window. When I pinpointed the real source of the drama, I then became concerned that perhaps she was in trouble. (It was dark, so I couldn’t tell at first if another person was in the car.) But once I ran past her, I finally understood what was going on. She was a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

I tried to slow down to better hear what horrible things the guy on the other end of the line obviously must have done to deserve such rage, but her voice went all Charlie Brown “mwa, mwa, mwa” once her car was behind me. As I jogged on, I pondered the possibilities. Did he cheat on her? Did he steal money from her? Did he cheat on her with a hooker that he paid for by stealing money from her?

Then I felt bad. No matter how awesome you might feel in your moment of fury, breakups suck. I’m sure that underneath her wrath, she was silently mourning the end of her relationship… Nope. About forty-five minutes later, I was again heading toward her car. She was still there and still raging. In fact, I think she had gotten louder. And if I’m being really honest… it impressed the hell out of me.

Go on with your crazy self, girl.

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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