A Short Story, or, The Last Pound Cake
Trips to Walmart are always exciting for me. It's part Star Wars style pod race, part mission impossible theme song driven time trial, all kinds of exciting. At least when I go alone. I don't like shopping with others. Anyway, my Walmart story today begins last night at 8pm. I breezed through the store, strategically choosing my route based on where my predetermined items were located. I arrived at the express line within minutes. The following people were in front of me.
- A 50ish year old man of African descent. Big hair, big smile, short shorts. He was purchasing a chocolate pound cake. How do I know? "Have you ever had a chocolate pound cake?" he asked. "They are delicious!" Apparently he had called ahead to check on said cake's availability at the store and was told that they were all out. Undeterred, he made the trip anyway (forgoing proper footwear in his haste) and snatched the last one, hidden from the bakery attendant's eye. He had just enough milk left at home for one piece before bed.
- Behind him was someone's grandfather. He had had something of a beer belly, but the sheer force of age had worn most of it down to his former, lanky figure. He too had a big smile and enjoyed his brief cake-related words with the man in front of him. He had 4 large bags of pre-popped white cheddar popcorn...and 5 apples. I can only assume it was movie night and his wife was watching her calorie intake.
- Next in line was the portly gentleman. Shirt tucked in, slacks, burnt orange mustache. He was on a mission, just like me. He didn't care about the cake, the popcorn, or the apples. He was bothered to even be standing in line. He had work to do. There was a 1/2 gallon of vanilla and a 1/2 gallon of strawberry in his hands, and two packs of dark fabric iron-ons for inkjet printers. Yes, his evening consisted of making custom logo'd t-shirts and eating ice cream.
The cashier's name was River. He had the earrings of a 22 year old and the mustache of a 14 year old. I paid with cash. He placed my goods in the bag on the opposite side of the carousel from me. I waited. He just stared into the bag. Finally, after a thoughtful pause, he picked it up and handed it to me. It was 8:20pm.
I walked out of the store with my jar of caraway seeds and my can of tomatoes and drove home.