We held a movie watching party the other day. While walking to the place where we were going to watch the movie, I stopped in a convenience store to buy some movie snacks. I picked out some cookies, sunflower seeds, and two bags of potato chips.
I dumped my loot on the checkout counter, and the clerk started tallying up the bill. She rang up one of my bags of chips, the took the second bag and placed it in a shelf behind her without adding it to the bill, and rang up the rest of my items.
A little confused and incredulous, I mentioned that my second bag of chips was behind her. “Yes,” she said. “You can’t buy that.”
I thought that I misunderstood her. “I can’t buy it? What do you mean?”
“You can only buy one bag,” she replied matter-of-factly.
“But I want two bags,” I protested. The situation was getting weird. “What, is there a shortage of chips? Are they being rationed?” I was sort of joking, sort of irritated at the lack of explanation of this strange turn of events.
“Yes,” she replied, probably calling my bluff. “They’re in limited supply.”
Sometimes I think there’s a conspiracy in China to drive me insane. This was one of those times.
I bought an extra can of beer to replace the chips. The clerk didn’t forbid that.
I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for why I was not allowed to buy the second bag of chips. Maybe there was a promotion going in, and I inadvertently grabbed a bag of chips from the “special prize” shelf. Or maybe I am actually living in a Kafka novel. But the bottom line is, I was not allowed to buy the second bag of chips, and I was not given a reason why.