Lagniappe on Aisle 17

Claire is strong and reactionary, and sometimes overly sensitive to any perceived lack of political correctness. She lived in New Orleans, but only because her husband was a philosophy professor at Tulane University. And though she was a former New Yorker living in the Deep South, she never lost her courage and character for self-preservation. It was just such fortitude that provides colorful anecdotes.

It was a usual balmy weekday evening one late spring when Claire was shopping—or “making groceries” as it’s called in the Crescent City. But this particular evening was different; she was being observed as she navigated the aisles. Occasionally, she’d catch a glimpse of a middle-aged, lower middle-class fellow who seemed always to be on the same aisle as she. Being streetwise, Claire avoided eye contact, and generally avoided him.

Eventually, though, the inevitable happened: She turned down aisle 17 only to find her stalker appear at the other end simultaneously. Options raced through her mind, ranging from turning around and perusing the Baking aisle until he left Canned Goods, or keep walking and confront this nemesis. She chose the latter.

With an air of determination, she strode down the aisle, oblivious to any items on the shelves. She, now, was on a mission—a mission of righteous indignation. In a matter of seconds, she was face to face with her adversary and gave him a look that asked, “Okay, pal, what now?” And her answer was swift and abrupt.

Without hesitation, her antagonist quickly and deftly unzipped his pants and exposed himself while standing next to the canned kidney beans. Claire stormed off to the closest cashier. “Where’s the manager?” she demanded. Within seconds an authority figure appeared and asked if he could help. “Yeah, you can start by calling the police! I was just flashed by one of your customers!”

“Can you describe him to me?” the manager asked calmly to comfort an increasingly agitated Claire. “What’d he look like? What was he wearing?”

“He had on a green shirt and matching pants,” she managed, bordering on maniacal indignation.

“Was he wearing a green jacket too?” he asked, squinting his eyes and slightly angling an ear toward Claire.

“Yes! That’s him! Call Security before he gets away!” She could hardly contain her appreciation for the manager’s recognition of the assailant.

“Oh, don’t worry about him, ma’am. He’s harmless. And he is Security.”