After work today, I meandered to Trader Joe's to do some light grocery shopping. I feel Trader Joe's to be a sort of sister-company, in that they seem to have a similar approach to customer service; the people at the registers actually try to make conversation with you. I like this very much (which, incidentally, is kind of funny, because I used to be terrified of talking to cashiers and suchlike). Today I asked the young chap ringing up my purchases if he celebrated Easter. I was going to wish him a happy one, but although I don't think there's a good reason to be offended for being wished a happy Easter even if you don't celebrate it, still, I also think there's no point in going out of my way to offend someone with whom I can't discuss the holiday at some length afterwards.
"Well, I mean, not really," he said, "but kind of I guess. I mean, family's coming over and stuff."
"That's nice," I said, insipidly but sincerely.
"Do you?" he asked politely.
"Um, yeah, I do," I said, trying to decide if I should be slightly more forthcoming and tell him that it is my favourite holiday of all the year, or at least that I was going to celebrate it with family, too. I was, of course, anticipating the obligatory, "Well, happy Easter then!" after which I would be on my merry way.
Only I had underestimated the Starbucks/Trader Joe's talk-about-anything propensity, because the next thing the guy said was, "Getting all ready to celebrate the return of Zombie-Jesus, huh?"
I guess he wasn't as concerned about offending people as I was.
I wasn't really offended, but I certainly was startled. This was the first time I had ever encountered this line of thinking. He appeared to expect that. He had said it with the pleased air of someone who had come up with the comparison all on his own and was accustomed to jarring people with it. I have to give him credit for that.
"Ummm . . . that's an interesting way to look at it," I ventured, trying to figure out if I could say anything a little more redemptive before the customers behind me in line got impatient or the kid clammed up and stopped talking.
Something about my hesitance must have clued him in to the fact that maybe I was a little more invested in the holiday than he had at first given me credit for, because he then began to try to backpedal vehemently.
"Well, I mean," he hemmed, "in my understanding, when someone dies, and then they come back to life out of their grave, they're zombies."
"Ah," I said, even though I am not up on my zombie lore, "but I believe zombies are still actually dead, whereas Jesus is alive."
"Are they dead, though?" he said, and reiterated his previous point. I couldn't answer the question, because I don't really know. Somebody that knows about zombies might enlighten me on this point.
But the kid was still going. "I'm not trying to say that's something bad, though. I mean, that Jesus was a zombie. He doesn't have to be a brain-eating zombie or anything. I mean, I'm pretty sure from whatever I've read in the Bible, He wasn't really that kind of guy . . ." By this time we had come to the end of my merchandise and I had paid for it and everything, and there were other customers in line, so there wasn't really any call for me to start grilling him on how much of the Bible he's actually read. Besides which, I've never read anything about zombies, nor do I intend to.
I don't remember how the conversation ended. I don't even remember if I wound up wishing him a happy Easter. But what I'm wondering is, could I have posited that zombies are animated, but not alive, and Jesus is alive? 'Cause I'll bring it up next time. I've seen that kid at Trader Joe's before.