In a world where we’ve been conditioned to be politically correct and embrace diversity—to not ask a lot of questions when someone goes against the grain or does something outside the proverbial, pesky box—I have to ask: why are batteries an exception to this rule? Why do people insist on knowing the purpose of my batteries?
Today I set out on an expedition to find a battery. Not a double A battery, a triple A battery, or even a nine-volt battery. No, I was in search of a 1.5-volter. Depending on where you go in the greater San Francisco area, these little gems are not readily available in the aisles, making it impossible to mind your own business and browse the batteries on your own. Nope, they’re behind a counter, encased in glass, forcing you to seek out and converse with some ill-informed, underage employee in order to get said battery. Is the 1.5-volt battery the crystal meth of batteries? Are people just so damned desperate for them that they need to be behind glass to prevent a string of senseless robberies and murders? I’m not sure.
But here’s what I learned: when a woman goes into a store—by herself—to buy only batteries, people are suddenly VERY interested in why she needs those batteries. At my third and final stop I successfully located my battery of choice, but not before I underwent a Law and Order-style line of interrogation that was missing only the swinging, bare light bulb above my head and a billowing cloud of smoke from someone’s filter-less Camels.
“Why do you need this battery?” asked the early twenty-something, smartass-looking Safeway employee with a glint in his eye.
Not that it’s any of your business, but please … allow me to enlighten you, Mr. Safeway employee. It’s for my garage door opener. My camera. My heart defibrillator. My watch. My gigantic hearing aid. Or my prison ankle bracelet, which will most definitely beep if I decide to jump over the counter and give you the smack-down for enjoying this line of questioning just a little too much.
Just give me the battery, damnit! Trust me on this—I NEED THE BATTERY! And stop casting that knowing glance at my Blockbuster bag, too, as if you think I’ve got some visual treats in there to go with this battery. Maybe all I’ve got in there is My Best Friend’s Wedding. Either way, just shut your pie-hole and fetch the goods, already.
When at last he sought out my special battery, he actually looked a little sheepish. There on the package, clear as day in a Times New Roman-esque font, was the word “Medical” along with the familiar medical serpent symbol.
“Oh, so it IS for medial reasons,” he said, looking a little disappointed.
Medical reasons. Exactly. You have no idea how much my health is going to improve now that I have this battery.