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Food For Thought

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was just after her

shopping cart.

The day I went shopping at a city supermarket, there wasn’t an empty shopping cart in sight. When one finally appeared over the crest of a snowbank, the grocery boy who was pushing it was nearly stampeded by the herd of people gathered in the middle of the parking lot.

I chose to be a little more civil. I fell into step beside some little old lady and offered to assist her with her groceries. She thought I was being extremely helpful, escorting her all the way to her car like that. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I was just after her shopping cart.

As I made my way up and down the aisles, the shelves seemed to empty ahead of me as if by magic. As a result I had too few items to warrant standing in line for any length of time, but too many for the express lane. Even as I wheeled past it, about 17 people glared at me simultaneously with icy eyes, clutching their meagre purchases against rigid bodies, elbows sharply defensive, as if to challenge my intentions before I even thought of intruding.

I pushed on, eventually jockeying my cart into position in Lane 7.

We weren’t exactly moving along at top speed, because somebody up front was buying enough food to outfit an expedition to the Arctic. Judging from her speed, the cashier had already been there and back but hadn’t thawed out yet.

And so there we stood. It didn’t take long for somebody to break

the ice by pointing out how hot it was in the store. Yes, indeed. My wool coat was chaffing my neck, the perspiration was running down my sides and my feet were swimming in my overshoes.

When I finally got up to the till, the cashier commented about the nice red tomatoes I’d chosen. I resisted the urge to tell her they probably finished ripening while I waited in line, but I could now see she was working as fast as she could. In other words, “There is a time to be silent.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) But there is also “a time to speak.” so I thanked her for her patience with all of us cranky shoppers on such a busy day.

“No problem!” she cheerfully replied. An attitude like that merits a promotion. I hope she gets one.

Alma Barkman writes from Winnipeg, Manitoba

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