A couple of weeks ago while picking up a few things at Costco, Linda and I decided to split up. She went one way, I the other, each with a list of items and a plan to meet back toward the front, “Near the checkout line,” she said as she headed into the walk-in cooler for some cucumbers. This was a Saturday and the place was so crammed with shoppers we figured by separating we’d more easily slip in and out of the crowd.
Personally I love Costco but hate a crowd. On Saturdays, when it’s crowded, I’m left angrily navigating around the sample lines mumbling about the foolishness of waiting 20 minutes for a teaspoon sized bite of frozen enchilada but with a grin on my face. “Success is mine,” I thought as I made it around the Aidells sausage sample buffet only to be almost knocked down by a giant blur of blue. In front of me stood a large black woman with an imposing presence and a baby tucked under one arm. She was dressed in an ocean blue frock that wrapped her girth from neck to toe and sported a matching headband. This wasn’t one of those skinny little rubberized headbands my daughters wear, rather it was a wide one and was fashioned from a strip of fabric matching her dress. It wrapped up from her forehead and disappeared into a pile of dreadlocks creating a sort of hair dam.
She was talking loudly when I noticed her, which I first mistook as directed at me. An apology perhaps, or even an angry word or two and it took me a minute to realize she’d hardly noticed me. She was having a conversation all right, but as I listened it became clear her words were not meant for me or the baby beneath her arm. It was at this point I noticed this woman had a cell phone tucked up into her headband, cocked just right so as to enable her to talk and listen at the same time.
In January Oregon passed a law prohibiting cell phone use without a hands free device while driving. I’ve heard bluetooth sales have jumped dramatically here and imagined the conversation my woman in blue might have had upon hearing about the new law. “Nobody’s gonna tell me I need an $80 bluetooth thingie. I got a whole drawer of headbands for that.”