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Today I’m taking a break from animal communication topics and examining the roughly thrice-annual phenomena of Mercury Retrograde, which goes on for about 3 weeks at a time.  It’s more complicated than this, but it’s known primarily for mucking up communication of all kinds.  Mercury had gone retro just two days earlier, and my daughter and I walked into the teeth of it.

We’d just arrived inside Hobby Lobby; when you’re with a kid the two of you walk around with your own soundtrack and all this implied confetti.   I like to think I was distracted but soon it was obvious either Mercury was in retrograde or the clerk and I were both nuts.

Just inside the front entrance the child was examining a miniature Etch-a-Sketch.  No, I said, it’s $6.99.  How are you ever going to save for something special if you spend your money on little things every time we walk into a store?  Let’s go find some ribbon, I recommended.

Behind me I heard, . . . “rzla shmidll pick something up?”

Wha? I turned.  There stood a smiling, 20-something girl.  Blonde.  Nice.  They’re all nice at Hobby Lobby, surely if she was nice and I was nice it would all turn out.

“I’m sorry?”  I said.  I wasn’t really sorry.

“AErb yood uhduh, ipsula chuck something out?”

In walked Self-Consciousness, my old friend.  Horror was trailing behind.  I froze, then stared; she smiled helpfully.  The child milled around my legs, clutching the miniature Etch-a-Sketch.

“We just walked in–” I began.  What does that have to do with anything? At exactly the same time a stream of gibberish came flooding out of the clerk’s mouth and then I heard,” . . . should put it down and wbacn  .wh oshel mwa out.”

Oh!  She wanted to know if she should stop stocking shelves, and help us check out!

I was so relieved.   I told her we had some shopping to do and we wandered off.   I was feeling better about myself but it would prove to be premature.

We returned with our selection.  I said, “now we’re ready”, and apologized for our earlier misunderstanding.

“Oh,” she said, “gnab’s qoo48ty,’  n,mjge sqq oh yjr nrdy pgyjr runw qw xiyks fi rglew.”  She grinned, hugely.

Oh, no.

Bla qieeuwa!” she brayed.

Pause.

“Well.”  I conceded.  “Wow.  Hey, how much do I owe you?”  I leaned over the counter and stared at the blue readout on the register.  No way was I gonna get this wrong.

Wibbet,” she chortled.

We smiled at each other.   I paid.   My child and I fled.

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