Memories and Musings: The roles we play

Published 10:05 am Sunday, December 5, 2021

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By Gene Gallelli

Let’s take a few minutes to chuckle at ourselves for some of the unknowingly, laughable roles we play from time-to-time.

The famous dialogue in “As You Like It” written by playwright William Shakespeare begins with “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players . . .” and goes on to describe what is commonly known as the seven stages of life. It got me thinking about the many roles we all play in our daily lives when we think no one is watching.

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The theaters in which our daily plays run are not venues with fancy names like the Globe, Palladium or Carnegie Hall but, rather, have familiar names like post office, grocery store, parking lot or department store.

Let us imagine we are in the grocery store venue watching a satire called the “The Shoppers” and you are reading a brief description of the main characters in the play.

Let us imagine that the lights have dimmed and curtain has gone up and the first character you see is Mr. Blocksalot whose role is to inhabit half of the aisle with his dancing body and the other half with his shopping cart. This role elicits many “Excuse Me!” comments from shoppers trying to get to the checkout line where they may run into Mrs. Pensive Payer.

She has just been told how much she owes by the cashier and reaches into her shopping cart for her purse, digs around for her zippered wallet, finds her checkbook, finds a pen and, after asking for the date, flips to a blank check and begins filling it out while totally ignoring the beautiful setting sun and the lady behind her who has fallen asleep slumped over her shopping cart.

Sometimes when you’re in a hurry and dash to the “12 Items or Less” checkout line with your basket filled with only milk, bread and a box of cereal, you run into Mr. Cannot Count, who interprets “item” and “category” as synonymous. He counts the muffins, bread, pie and doughnuts as one item: baked goods. The steaks, hot dogs, ground beef and bacon are his second item: meat. His third “item” – two six-packs of paper towels, a double-pack of dinner napkins and a four-pack of Kleenex – leaves no room for the nine remaining “items,” although he had considered taking a second shopping cart.

During the summer it would be unusual to be grocery shopping and not experience the “family reunion!” Mom, dad, two teenage sisters, two teenage brothers, six-year-old twins and a crying three-year-old sitting in the shopping cart explode into the grocery store and head into different sections-of-preference: cereal, adult beverages, baked goods, restroom, snacks and deli, leaving shoppers in defensive stances imagining the William Tell Overture blaring from the store’s many speakers. Naturally, they choose to stand together at the checkout line.

Finally, at the soup aisle, encircled by waiting soup shoppers, we find Miss Content Reader who is comparing dozens of soup cans looking for the one with the fewest artificial ingredients. Of course, her shopping cart is strategically blocking the half of the available soups that she isn’t blocking. Finally, disappointed, she decides to make her own soup from scratch and leaves to hover over the chicken section.

Now that the curtain has come down on our grocery satire, the truth must be told: I have been guilty of playing all the aforementioned roles, except maybe the family reunion. Yep! I admit it.

Maybe a good venue for another drama or satire would be a large department store on black Friday.

What d’ya think?

Gene Gallelli was Associate Superintendent of the Dare County Schools for eight years. He received his Doctor of Education degree from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students studying to become school administrators.