Prologue: Another Trip to Market

The list of groceries was long. There had been a coin flip and I’m not sure whether I had won or lost, but I was in the market, alone, and my wife was home with the boys. It was 6 of one and half-dozen of the other.

It was Sunday and the football games were over. The store was filling up with shoppers that had put the day off until evening. I was one of them.

My basket was full. The lines were long. I picked the shortest and was followed quickly by a woman with two items, a bag of chips and a pie heavy with meringue. I told her to go before me. We stood there, her waiting with her two items and me with my many. I glanced behind me and there was another woman with a small handful of items. I felt like replenishing my karma and told her that she too could go ahead of me.

The conveyor belt moved and soon the three of us were sharing counter space. I quietly unloaded my goods and suddenly realized that the orange juice in my hand was not the orange juice that I intended to buy. It was not fortified with calcium and vitamins. There was not a smiling face on the jug. I spoke in the direction of the two women and asked if they could watch my basket for a moment while I exchanged the juice. They smiled and nodded and I ran like Barry Sanders through aisles of defense. No one could touch me.

When I returned, impressively fast considering the distance, the two ladies were mid-way through the unloading of my basket. They had taken it upon themselves to place my items on the belt behind their own. They were kind and I liked it, despite the rapid drain of my karma reserve.

I thanked them. They smiled. We went on with our lives. I pushed my cart out into the cold night air and thought, thank God this wasn’t the night that I bought the condoms.

That would have been awkward for everyone.

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