My mum always nags me about eating more fruits. I like to follow her advice but the truth is I am scared of the produce section. You never know what the protocol is over there. What to weight, how to weight and where to weight?! Questions with no easy answers. Seems like every country I go to have its own produce laws. There are no standards in this wild frontier of the supermarket.
The queue was longer than the line for a hush puppy warehouse sale. People were impatiently waiting for their turn to pay. I was a bit apprehensive. I bought some fruits. Yeap, I man up this time and went into the produce section. Despite that, I couldn’t help but feel something is going to go wrong. Then, it was my turn.
She started beeping my stuff… And on cue, stopped at my grapes. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. It didn’t help that it was in Arabic. Then French. But based on her sign language, I think my worst fears were being realized. The grapes were not priced! I ignored the killer stares from the family behind me, grabbed the grapes and ran to the dreaded produce section. Along the way, I had to dodge 5 carts, 3 unruly brats and a really slow moving couple who should be spending more time in the produce section than the chocolate shelves.
Finally with minimal bruising, I turned the corner to the weighing counter. It was empty. As I was about to use the scales, this kid cuts in. She couldn’t have been more than 6 with a pony tail trying to reign in a messy hairdo, tiny freckles and a height that couldn’t reach to the top of the scales. She then turns and narrows her eyes at me. She was a quarter of my size but I don’t mind admitting I was scared. I help her by putting her lettuce on the scales. It gets weighted and priced. She pulls her lettuce bag down, sticks out her tongue at me and runs off. God, I hate the produce section!
The line is now 2 miles long. Every eyes turns to me as I run to the head of the queue. The hostility made the air stuffy. I didn’t care though. I got my grapes weighted, priced and I return triumphant like a conquering hero. I looked at the cashier and held up my grapes with confidence reserved only for Bond. Our eyes meet. She was holding up something too. My confidence plummeted.
My washing machine thinks it is the reincarnation of the hulk. It vibrates shakes and constantly threatens to beat up its more peaceful cousin, the sink. I did everything I could to calm it down. I sat with him (and on him), sang him lullabies, hugged him with love (aka cushions) and even told him about how just a few weeks ago, my mum did all my washing. Nothing seem to work. He was throwing more tantrums than a 6 year old that lost his lollipop.
Worst part is you knew when he was about to blow. The buildup itself was stressful. It starts off with a whizzing sound like a missile about to find its target. When the whizzing reaches its peak, the whole bathroom would begin to shake, rattle and just stops short of rolling off my apartment block. Pictures were coming off their frames and the mirror was threatening me with 7 years of bad luck. Despite the hard to ignore warning bells, I was completely and utterly helpless.
My mind was racing. What would the neighbors think? They were probably calling the cops to evict the stupid foreigner who didn’t know how to handle his washer… Shucks!
Begging didn’t help. Even tears did not stop its insane spin cycle. I was at my wits end, not to mention I could not feel my hands anymore trying to contain his epilepsy with my little muscles and puny fingers. Oh, the cold sweat of despair. The emergency button was nowhere to be seen. My sink was getting a hammering. It was going to break soon enough. I felt like a rag doll on top of a bull. This was it! My first laundry ends up with me being hauled up to jail for having an unruly washer…
Then it stops.
All quiet now. I couldn’t believe it. The washing was done. I could barely stand up. My whole body was still shaking. I sat down next to the tub. If I smoked, I would have lighted up two by now. I noticed the installation guide under the sink. With trembling fingers I thumbed through it until I came to a page 4. It was as easy to spot as an Indian man on a ski slope. It was probably one of the most profound Aha moments a newbie bachelor in a new apartment could have ever had. The words literally jumped out of the page and pierced my brains screaming as it seared through my mind with its simplicity…
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