In front of me today at the supermarket was a man with a modest basket of food. I intentionally got into line behind him because I thought it’d be quick. So much for that assumption, because when presented with the total due, a prose version of this conversation began . . ..
Take the pineapple for sure
maybe the carrots . . . and the pear.
I s’pose the tomatoes will help,
too. What’s the total? Are we there?
No? Still need another couple bucks?
OK, bananas—but can we split ‘em . . .
only take back a few? Nah . . .
all or nothin’. Damn,
I was really lookin’ forward
to them. Oh, well. I have to use
cash because my bank has
put on the screws—
guess I overdrew too many
times—it’s all f_cked up. It’s
hell bein’ out of work—excuse the “French.”
Yeah, no kiddin’—no job’s the pits.
Now . . . what’s the total? We’re
at $30.47? I got just thirty bucks.
What’s there to make up the 47 cents?
Huh? Call it even? Ah, shucks,
mister, that’s really nice.
Thanks a lot. You made my day.
You, too . . . you have a good one!
Thanks again. See ya’ next Tuesday.
I felt embarrassed to have witnessed this personal scene, and sad, too, that everything the man returned was good stuff. It wasn't as he was returning Fritos and Pepsi. Understandably, the only item from produce he kept was the bag of potatoes. The clerk, a man in midlife, was extremely courteous and pleasant.