I'm in line at our local Smart & Final. The woman in front of me and I exchange zero words during our three or so minutes proximous...until, while her items are being scanned, her lemonade rolls over the divider into my "section" of items.
When I finally notice this, I give her the drink back; she thanks me. A few seconds later, the woman—in total seriousness—asks me if she should use debit or credit. She wasn't after instructions; she wanted a decision. I had no idea why this was happening and blurted out "credit".
This was one of those moments where, reflecting on the encounter, I wondered if perhaps I don't get out enough and this is normal behavior. Or if it was some sort of joke or film reference. Surely, it couldn't be a woman asking a random guy to choose her method of payment just because he returned her lemonade...could it?
Latrell Sprewell played with the Golden State Warriors 1992-98, which is important to this story.
I'm entering our local Dollar Tree, wearing a Warriors hat. Outside, a glossy-eyed dude stood and asked me, almost as if reading off a piece of paper: "WARRIORS WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUH?"
So he's up to date with current events, right? Wrong.
DUDE: "SPREWELL DON'T PLAY FOR WARRIORS NO MORE HUH?"
He'll be real disappointed to learn Chris Webber got traded, too.
It's late at night and I'm leaving the local Food Maxx. Outside, one bum sits on the ground right outside the doorway for seemingly no reason, saying nothing, staring off into yonder. His tag-team partner stands a few feet away, and soon seeks my opinion as I walk away...
BUM: "Do you think skinny people are overweight and overweight people are skinny?"
(Yes, you read that correctly.)
ME (still in stride): "That is a strange question to ask, dude."
BUM: "I'm just trying to stop worrying about myself."
I just kept going, though in hindsight I regret my lame reply—something like "I don't think people even exist" would've worked so much better.
I'm attempting my hoops routine in the 707, but I've made the mistake of trying to do so the day after a workout—my arms are sort of rubbery. If that weren't bad enough, wind is strong—needless to say, my shots aren't falling as they normally would.
My bricks grabbed the attention of a passerby. This guy looked like a 5'8" Terrell Owens, and he had plenty of (unsolicited) advice to give. I tried explaining why my shots weren't falling—sore arms and cross-directional wind can have that effect—but he wasn't hearing it.
At first, the advice from "T.O." wasn't bad. "Square up yo' shoulders, don't be movin' when you shoot, etc." Because I do have a habit of shooting while not square and/or not still, I respectfully listened.
But then things got weird. His coaching dissolved into one repeated instruction: "You got to talk to yo' ball like it's a woman!" Three different times. He kept waiting for me to try this tactic, but even if I was willing to speak to a basketball...what the hell was I supposed to say? "You look nice today, girl?"
To illustrate what he meant, T.O. took the ball from me and dribbled it in place for about 10 seconds. While doing so, he stared intensely at the ball, muttering something in an unnatural voice that I wasn't close enough to decipher. Good luck getting me to do that, buddy.
Upon realizing he'd lost me, T.O. went back to conventional coaching, but began leaving out significant chunks of instruction as he did so. "When you go up, you got to put yo' hand...(silence)...trust me on that." It was like the Nixon tapes meet the playground. T.O. finally left, and just to be safe, so did I soon after.
A few days later, I'm in the 408 (specifically Washington Park in Sunnyvale). Just as I begin walking up the path to the courts, an older black guy driving by spots me with my ball and makes a U-turn to ask the following question:
"You know what you doin' with that ball?"
I assume this is an old-time player joking around with me, so I attempt to joke back with him: "Hope so! We'll find out soon enough! Hahaha..."
He does not so much as crack a smile. He looks at me as if I just spoke Klingon to him. Then, the guy U-turns back the way he was originally headed and is gone.
...uh, what just happened?
What was I supposed to have said? Anyone? "No, sir. I have no clue. Can you show me?"
I'm at our local Dollar Tree. This store—and the entire chain, based on my experiences—has a strange policy: if your total comes to, for example, $7.10, and you pay with a $10 but find a dime before getting your change back...they will NOT give you $3. They must return to you exactly what is typed into the register—literally ZERO other businesses I've ever dealt with operate this way.
I've trained myself to announce if I'm paying in cash AND change in advance, to avoid conflicting with their (asinine) policy, as I did on this day.
My total came to $4.35. "Gonna give you $5.10," I announced to the cashier, a young, slow-witted guy of around 20-22. He hears me and supposedly types in $5.10.
He then proceeds to give me back...a quarter. (Which should only happen if he punched in $4.60, obviously.)
"What about the other 50 cents? My change is 75 cents."
"The machine said 25 cents."
The machine said 25 cents.
What if the machine said to give me pubic hair instead of coins?
This is f----- third grade math, I want to say. But my kid is with me—gotta set a positive example.
"The machine is WRONG. You owe me 50 more cents."
Which, once a manager intervened, I quickly got.
The machine said...
If only there were some way for me to hack into the register. I'd have "the machine" telling this guy to strip down to his underwear, lather himself up and belly-slide down the aisles. After all, whatever "the machine" says goes, right??? Idiot.
(Update: I did indeed double-check and no, the total was not $4.85.)
I'm walking home from the nearby grocery. I've got a bag in one hand and an unbagged box of cereal in the other. This sparks the curiousity of a man chillin' on his porch as I pass his house:
"Hey, bruh...where the milk at??"
With a big smile on his face, obviously the man was honestly just trying to get a laugh, so I was not rude to him. "Oh, man, I forgot!" came the reply, dumbing down my IQ for the sake of playing along. I now use the other side of the road on my grocery walks, so that when I do buy milk, he can't ask "Hey bruh...where the Nesquick at??"
The next few encounters came at the hoop courts as I tried (and failed) to exercise in peace alone.
I'm in the 707, warming up alone at Shenandoah Park, when a young man (22-ish) and his equally-young female companion walked up. He wanted to shoot around with me; she wanted to be anywhere else. I obliged the guy.
Judging by his moves and athletic build, the guy could play the game—but on this morning, he couldn't make a hoop from anywhere to save his life.
Clank! Clank! Clank! He grew more and more frustrated, blaming his struggles on rust and repeatedly stating he'd do better in a real game—hinting he wanted a one-on-one with me. I wasn't going to volunteer, but I would have played him had he challenged me...which he never did.
As I continued to nail about 50% of my shots, he continued to brick about 80% of his until finally, at his breaking point, he all but forced his girlfriend to shoot around as well. This girl was tall (about 5'10" or slightly more) and spoke of once being on a team, but in this moment she did not want to play. However, her guy took the choice away from her. It was almost like he needed to see her outbrick him to restore his confidence.
The guy instructed her where to shoot from, spots where she had zero chance of sinking one. At first—as one might expect—she was awful. Then she sank a couple as he continued to brick. Next thing I know they'd walked off the court without so much as a goodbye or thanks—on his command, no doubt—embroiled in an argument.
I'm at Ryland Park in San Jose, doing my usual one-man practice/sprint session that consists of drilling 100 three-pointers at opposite ends of the court, sprinting to the other end after every two or three—this is crucial to the story.
About 75 threes in, a guy walks up wanting a one-on-one. I politely declined. I'm not even sure what happened next, but somehow the topic of my Reduction (fitness efforts) came up. This triggered something in "Hank", who proceeded to follow me end-to-end of the court going on...and on...and on about some pills/vitamins he takes as a supplement. Along the way, he explains he "used to be on drugs but is clean now."
"How long you been clean?" I ask between shots. His answer? Not a few years...or months...or weeks. "Nine days," he says proudly. I want to point out that you can't really go around bragging about being "clean" when there's still crap in your damn system...but he was on a roll, proceeding to even roll up his sleeves to show dozens of healed junkie marks. Mind you, I've known this man all of five minutes at this point; we haven't even shared names.
Additionally, though I tried to feign interest and carry a conversation with Hank, he isn't really listening to anything I say and talks right through me much of the time—nine days or nine minutes, dude? I pray to complete the final 25 threes of my workout so I can get the hell out of there, but my shot begins to tank amid the distraction and I'm stuck in the 80's for about 10 full, painful minutes—Hank shadowing my every step.
Ultimately, after suggesting like a half-dozen hiking spots—like I'm going to remember them all—Hank ends up leaving before I do without having shot a single hoop of his own (he had his own ball to do so, mind you...what did he show up planning to do??)
Same situation, same location as the above story. My session started inauspiciously when a three caromed off the rim onto the nearby playground. I chased after the rock, which rolled into the path of some blonde chick. Despite my shouts of "I got it!", she "helps" by kicking the ball toward me—too close to react, it shoots right through my legs and all the way back onto the court some 100 feet away...goddammit. I doubt it was deliberate, but she was more amused than apologetic. Activate foul mood.
About halfway through my session, another baller—early 40's, short—shows up at the half-court adjacent to my full court. Some of his misses carom onto my side, which happens, and I do not mind one bit tapping them back his way.
After about 10 of these, one of mine lands on his side. He taps it back, remarking something like "You been gettin' all mine, now its my turn!" I reply with something like "It's all good, I need all the exercise I can get."
Why, why did I engage him?
Next thing I know, "Hugo" is making me stop shooting so he can roll his pant leg up and show me some surgical scar—apparently he was injured the year before playing ball on this very court, and apparently he's still bitter about it. How do I know?
Because my next two trips downcourt, Hugo fired off profanity-laced mini-rants about that day, the ambulance, the hospital, the recovery time...zero of which I'd expressed even a speck of curiousity about. Like Hank before him, Hugo is talking right through me.
Between the blonde and Hugo, I declare the day a loss and cut my session short at 65 made threes (rather than the usual 100-150) and high-tail it back to my car without so much as a "good luck" to Hugo. What the hell is it about me that makes these dudes want to show me all their scars?