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The People at the Salad Bar

I swung by the local vegan-friendly grocery store to pick up a salad and some autumnal minestrone soup before I got back to work.  I picked up an empty salad container and got behind a nice, clean-cut, middle aged couple who were filling their own salad containers.  They looked like they had come from a nearby office on their lunch break.  Once I was committed to purchasing a salad, once I had placed my grubby hands on that empty container, that is when I listened in on the conversation that was happening next to me.  The one happening between the two people who were blocking my access to the romaine.

“Yes, there are so many options at a salad bar,” the man told the woman.  “They’re really one of my favourite things.  Let me tell you about it.”

At this point, I assumed that the woman was not from the United States or perhaps she had never left her house before and therefore had no clue how a salad bar worked.  And because I am a kind person who was only moderately in a rush to get back to work, I arranged my face into a mask of understanding and waited patiently for the couple to notice that there was someone right behind them who would love to just grab some lettuce and edamame and beat it on out of there whenever it was convenient for them to open up a little space at the bar.

“So what you have here are lots of different options.  And if you decide you want something, you pick up this thing here: it’s a scoop.  And you just dig it on down in the vegetable and scoop; you scoop it up.  And then you move the spoon over your container and drop the vegetables inside.”

“Wow, lots of options.”

The woman’s accent was definitely American.  So she must be a recluse.  Except she had a nice healthy glow about her.  And she was in normal, business-style clothing as if she had come from an office.  So now I decided that — poor lamb — she must have had a head trauma and forgotten about salad bars.  And now this nice man was reteaching her how to pull together a lunch.  If she could bravely relearn salad bars, then I could wait patiently for two minutes so she didn’t feel rushed.  I also had to wait patiently because even though they acknowledged my presence with a nod, they weren’t moving aside to let me put my speedy salad-making skills to use.

“So, yes, you just pick up the spoon, scoop it on down in the vegetables, and then place them in your container.  And you can choose anything here.”

“This is great!” the woman said.

“I like to start with lettuce,” the man admitted.

“Oh, me too.  Actually, Gary, I’ve been to a salad bar before!”

“You have?  Well how about that.  Have you ever put English peas in your salad?” the man asked.

“I just hadn’t thought to do that.  That’s so clever.  Have you ever put peas in your salad?”

“No, I’m not a big fan, as they say.  No thank you on peas!  What about carrots?  How do you feel about carrots?”

“Well they have certainly sliced them very thinly here,” the woman commented.  “How do you like that?  Little matchstick carrots.  How clever!”

“Okay, Helen.  Tell me.  What do you think of cooked foods in a salad?”

“Like these clever little tofu strips?  I don’t really know, Gary.”

They realized that I was staring at them in disbelief, and they made a big show of stepping back from the bar so they could let me have a turn while they debated out the merits of every single offering at the very extensive salad bar.  As I quickly filled my container, they talked about whether or not to add croutons at the end, how they felt about salad dressing, and the best way to close the salad container.  I decided I would do the rest of my grocery shopping and come back to get the soup from the soup bar at the end because I was about to lose it on Gary and Helen.

I did all my other grocery shopping and then swung back to the salad bar, certain that even though my first trip to that area of the store took 8 minutes, that Gary and Helen would be gone by this point.  Back in their office with their very carefully constructed salads.  BUT THEY WERE STILL AT THE BAR.  And now they were debating all the soups.  How to fill a cup.  Which soup to get.  Which soups remind them of their grandmother’s house in the middle of winter and which soups are really ones they’d rather never have again.  And how the lentil soup at the store is so clever because it has little bits of pasta in it!

I was able to bust in there and grab a quick container of soup and dash into line.  They ended up two behind me in my row.

This is the point in the story where I’m supposed to say that I was the monster and how sweet Gary and Helen were that they could find such joy and deep thought in considering vegetables and how no one has patience these days.

But the trip to the grocery store that is within walking distance of my home took 40 minutes.  40 minutes.  So no, I don’t have a sweet, after school special, one-to-grow-on type ending to this story.  Just the knowledge that I probably finished eating my lunch before they had drained their wonder and impeded many other people from stuffing some salad in their pie hole.

If you think slow driver or slow walkers are annoying, you need to spend some time between slow salad makers.  It’s a different playing field.


1 nicoleandmaggie { 10.23.13 at 12:54 pm }

HAHAHAHA… oh man.

2 Amy { 10.23.13 at 1:40 pm }

I’m laughing out loud.

3 Geochick { 10.23.13 at 1:56 pm }

Wow. Laughing hysterically. Can you imagine working with those two?

4 Kacey { 10.23.13 at 2:02 pm }

Do you think it was a bit? I’m wondering if they were part of some improv class or a “What Would You Do” tv special or something. Surely they can’t be for real.

5 Kasey { 10.23.13 at 2:19 pm }

I agree are you sure you weren’t on some TV show? I would have lost it I have no doubt.

6 Lollipop Goldstein { 10.23.13 at 2:21 pm }

If I was, there were no visible cameras.

Maybe I found the two most earnest people in the world.

7 Sharon { 10.23.13 at 2:25 pm }

Wow. Maybe I’m a real b*tch, but that would’ve really annoyed me. It’s a salad bar. Hardly a novelty.

8 loribeth { 10.23.13 at 4:02 pm }

I stood behind a woman at Starbucks this summer who must have deliberated over her order and quizzed the barista for a good five minutes, maybe longer. I’m usually pretty patient, but even I was rolling my eyes by the time she finally moved on (& dh, who is NOT patient in the least, particularly when it comes to FOOD, was seething & muttering rude things). :p Hello, you are NOT the only person in the world here…!!

9 Melanie { 10.23.13 at 4:44 pm }

What? That is the weirdest thing I’ve heard in awhile. Maybe they were on a lunch date and they were trying to make conversation about anything? I don’t know. Maybe it was a hidden camera show and you didn’t react enough to get asked to put your footage on tv. Weird.

10 meanttobemommy { 10.23.13 at 4:57 pm }

This is hyserical. I probably would have lost it!

11 Brid { 10.23.13 at 5:47 pm }

What the fuck?! It sounds like you took a wrong turn and ended up at the local twilight zone salad bar.

12 Catwoman73 { 10.23.13 at 7:17 pm }

That’s just bizarre. I strongly suspect they were aliens- trying (and failing miserably) to fit in. There’s no other logical explanation.
Seriously- I would have lost. my. shit. on them.

13 Lori Lavender Luz { 10.23.13 at 8:46 pm }

I was waiting for a conclusion about being present or having your suspicions validated, but all we’re left with is annoyance — quaint annoyance but annoyance nonetheless.

I think you handled it more kindy than I might have. I think I would have resorted to highly audible sighs (bordering on full-on glottal stops) and body language of extreme impatience. Maybe even the uber-faux pas of cutting in front of them in line.

Was it the most worth-waiting-for salad ever?

14 It Is What It Is { 10.23.13 at 11:46 pm }

How utterly annoying, seemingly for annoying’s sake. Odd, for sure. And, hey, you want to discuss and dissect the minutiae of each salad bar offering? Knock yourself out but please be mindful of those around you who are just trying to get their good eats and be gone.

In general, people are so self-absorbed, so oblivious, that they can’t be bothered to move over to let faster vehicles pass.

15 Liz { 10.24.13 at 12:16 am }

…and then you had to spend time composing this blog post and typing it and then I, the random stranger, had to spend the time reading it. Now I’m annoyed, for both of us. Boooo Gary and Helen!

16 anexpatinuk { 10.24.13 at 6:08 am }

Hahaha so funny but my god how annoying that must have been. And very odd for sure.

17 Tiara { 10.24.13 at 6:49 am }

I would have been facinated by these two! & thoroughly annoyed!

18 KeAnne { 10.24.13 at 8:54 am }

That is so weird! I can’t imagine having the luxury of enough time to thoroughly discuss the salad bar as if it is the most important thing in the world. Wow.

19 Amber { 10.24.13 at 9:07 am }

Ummm, that’s just… very bizarre. I would have been über annoyed also.

20 nicoleandmaggie { 10.24.13 at 9:12 am }

Oh dear, I had a guilty thought. What if Gary is developmentally disabled and Helen is his caretaker. :/

21 Mel { 10.24.13 at 9:14 am }

Basing this on nothing but external appearance, verbal capabilities, demeanour, etc, I don’t think there was anything inherently wrong with them. I just think they were two people in business attire who apparently never needed to get back to their job who found a lot of wonder and excitement in a simple salad bar.

22 Pepper { 10.24.13 at 9:16 am }

I’m sorry this was a bad experience for you, but thank you for sharing. I laughed a little because I ALWAYS manage to find these people when I am out, especially if I have limited time. Glad to know I’m not alone. And I frequently check, on the sly, for the well-hidden camera, certain this must be for tv. Nope, not ever.

23 Mrs T (missohkay) { 10.24.13 at 10:01 am }

hahaha. I don’t like salad enough to put up with all that.

24 Battynurse { 10.24.13 at 1:12 pm }

Lol! How absolutely bizarre.

25 Laurel Regan { 10.24.13 at 7:43 pm }

ROFL! Yeah, that would have made me crazy. But it makes a great post!

26 deathstar { 10.27.13 at 12:12 pm }

Having the ability to to be very loud, I would have just politely and firmly ask to go ahead of them while they made up their minds. There is no way in the world I would have just stood by. NO WAY. If I am hungry, I am merciless. And I have to say that I enjoyed this post very much, so I’m sorry you had to live through that, cause that’s time that you will never get back – but man, this is funny!

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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