People who feel great don’t need help

It was a warm March evening and I was minding my business, shopping for a few groceries before going home from work. Bananas. Check, said the self-service checkout register. Milk. Check. Two little bottles of fuel injector cleaner for our cars’ gas tanks. Definitely not check.

Assume the position, citizen!” the register commanded as a mechanical arm shot out and pointed an accusing metal finger at me. “Over here, associates! Drug abuser! Drug abuser!”

Now, I usually have bad luck at self-checkouts. That very night, I had sought in vain a worker to help when the machine charged me three times for one salad. Nobody responded – until the fuel injector cleaner, and then you would have thought I was a protester at a political rally. Suddenly, a woman was in my face.

“What goes on here?” she demanded.

I looked for her TSA badge, but all she had was one of those “How may I serve you?” thingies pinned to her smock. I didn’t feel I was being helped.

She looked at my groceries and ordered the store to stand down.

“What did I do?” I asked. Any­time anything goes wrong at home or work, I’m usually to blame, so I figured I was now.

“It’s the cleaner,” she said. “They just recently keyed it into our computer system as something we need to approve.”

“What does the store have against clean, efficient engines?”

“Nothing, but we can’t let teenagers buy it these days.”

“They don’t need clean engines?”

“Yes, if they’d used it for that. But we’ve found that they drink it to get high.”

“That doesn’t sound very smart,” I said.

“You’re right,” she said, resetting the register. “You’re absolutely right. We’ve had to do the same thing with cans of spray paint. Crazy kids.”

After she walked away, I remembered the time I had been carded at a home-supply store for a can of paint. I tried to imagine how many alarms go off at Sherwin-Williams on a typical Saturday. All to keep young people’s brains intact.

Teens haven’t quite got those brains developed yet, but they feel the best they will ever feel. I wonder why some see the need to feel “better” with chemicals.

They should appreciate knees that don’t hurt, joints of the flexible kind, legs that carry them to the paint store without snapping, crackling and popping.

Dick Beals and other readers called to ask why, when I recently mentioned that March 14 was Pi Day, I didn’t point out that it was not just 3-14, but 3-14-16, the first five digits of a rounded-off pi – the only time it will occur this century. (As you know, pi represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and has been used for millennia.)

I just didn’t think of it; anytime I use pi in my daily life, you see, I like to aim for infinity: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375 …

Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.

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