Friday, January 14, 2011

Bliss: Checkout

The guy bagging the groceries dropped two 50 pound sacks of dog food in the cart then slipped a package of toilet paper, some assorted boxes and bottles of cleaning supplies, and a jug of milk into separate bags. The last thing to go was a plastic container with an eight-piece of cold chicken from the deli, which is always overcooked, greasy and dry.

The woman involved in the transaction looked up at the screen above the cashier and bit her bottom lip.

"I don't know if I have enough," she said and pulled a cheap pocketbook out of her battered purse. "We'll just have to see."

The cashier only nodded. He was a young, but had seen this before.

"I might have to put something back," she said to no one in particular and brushed the yarn-like strands of her thinning, gray hair out of her face.

She waited for the kid to hit the total: $41.35.

The old woman winced, but nodded and began counting out tens, then fives and finally single dollars.

She had $38.

The guy bagging the groceries looked up and said, "You could put one of the bags of dog food back."

He was trying to be kind. The dog food was heavy and she had two of them. It seemed like a graceful way to exit the situation, but she declined.

"No, that's okay," she said. "We need that. Just put back the chicken."

The two grocery store employees looked at each other then I leaned forward.

"How much is she short?"

"About three bucks or so."

I'd come to the store to solve some needs and wants. My youngest wanted kool-aid. My wife wanted lite soy milk. My daughter needed a big ass candy bar and a bottle of root beer. She's an autistic and the last two days had been home from school. Lately, the world has become a lot more threatening to her and the candy was an easy way to calm her.

I'd collected these items and realized I kind of wanted something for me. I thought I kind of deserved it, but the movie selection kind of sucked and I wasn't really in the mood for candy, beer or even a magazine.

I laid a ratty looking five dollar bill on the counter.

"It's good karma," I told the lady. "I happened to have a couple of bucks."

She blinked, a little surprised, then thanked me. The clerks were stunned.

"That's like the nicest thing," the cashier said and I shrugged.

"It's not a big deal."

It wasn't. We all went our separate ways. The guy bagging the groceries only had a half hour to go until he went home and he couldn't wait. I saw the old woman out in the parking lot, riding in an old beat-up van that made me think of the one my parents had when I was a kid, the kind of vehicle good for hauling an army of ten-year-old baton twirlers to a parade or a bunch of very big dogs.

In the car, I turned up an old Motley Crue song as loud as I could force the stereo to go. Nothing had really changed. I felt the same, but it was a good kind of same.


Autumn Dawn said...

You put a big stupid grin on my face. You're definitely my hero of the day!

primalscreamx said...

Just following my bliss.