Market Hall freaks me out


Much like the Original Berkeley Bowl,  Market Hall in Rockridge totally  freaks me out.

I guess I sorta believe in all that feng shui shit. I mean, in the sense that…certain kinds of  store layouts and aisle design can cause chaos and confusion  in certain kinds of specially challenged brains.

Like mine.

I never go to Berkeley Bowl on a Sunday afternoon, because  I’m afraid I’ll beat a hippie to death with a spelt baguette.  And I try to avoid Market Hall entirely–even though it’s right by my house. Because it’s expensive.  And  also because one evening,  I went full-on Rain Man  sensory-meltdown, trying to navigate their line/cue system.  

I can’t remember what I was purchasing that night. Probably some cheese, or pickled free-range kumquats. (the uszh)  Anyway, I was standing in what I thought was the check-out line.  BUT I GUESS I WASN’T.

“Ma’am you need to be in that line over there,” said an irritated looking woman behind me.

“Oh, which line?” I asked, turning around, looking at the woman. She looked like almost every  other women in my neighborhood–28 going on 68. Tired, hungry, and probably hasn’t gotten laid since New Years Eve 1979.

“That one,” she said, pointing. “That one over there.”

There were at least three lines!!

“Ma’am!” shouted  one of the cashiers third line over, looking right at me, beckoning me with a gloved hand.

Aha!  Yes. Direction from the staff. I will follow obediently. I walked, stiltedly towards the cashier, disturbing line # 2 as I pushed between it to the other side.

“Excuse me, sorry,” I muttered.

“No– Ma’am-MA’AM!” shouted a random older dude, as I continued my frankenstein rampage through the lines.

“M’am— she’s saying go to THAT other line over there!”shouted the irritated woman. I turned around.


Too many voices!  Shouting! Pointing!  Calling me Ma’am!  WHAT DO THEY WANT ME TO DO.  I froze, and  everything went all white-noise.  People yelled,but I couldn’t tell what they were saying anymore, however, their faces looked super hostile and exasperated.   I felt like I was in that scene in Clockwork Orange where the old folks  gathered  around Malcom McDowell, and caned him to near-death. Why are they shouting so many shouts at me?  

And then, one of the cashiers actually came out from behind the cash register counter, and took me by the elbow like nurse Ratched.  “Are we going to the pillow room?” I wanted to ask. “My teeth itch. I want some jello with grapes in it, and then the green pills.”

“Just come over to this register, ma’am.” said the cashier,  and I marched alongside her, as the other folks in line sighed and tsked, and wondered out loud what the problem was with me. 

I bought my groceries, and I fled Market Hall.

And now, I never go back to Market Hall if I can help it , unless it’s for the awesome pizza at the bakery in the front, because, after all,  it’s only just one line. 



About ArleneShirlee

Hello. I live in Oakland. I write, I rap, I play drums, and I do some neat party tricks.
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