Three People in a Grocery Store  Daniel Cecil



There's a man who refuses to acknowledge his separation from The Process. He wears a suit Monday through Friday, but at 3 a.m. every Saturday morning, he creeps to the market in fatigues and face paint, and stalks his Betty Crocker 3 Cheese Instant Mashed Potatoes with the zeal of a Serengeti lion taking down a lame antelope. He's savvy and not to be fucked with. If all the varieties of Campbell's Soup combined their forces in an eclectic, steaming, Warholian wet dream of a broth, they still wouldn't stand a chance. And, at the end of his expedition, he ties a semi-boneless ham to the hood of his car and drives home fulfilled.


There's a punk rock shopper who wants nothing more than to piss the other shoppers off. She parks her cart on one side of the aisle and stands on the other side, creating an impassable obstacle to all who come her way. She seems not to like the way the shelves have been stocked because she rearranges the food with a logic all her own, placing a watermelon she acquired in produce in front of several varieties of spaghetti sauce. And woe be to the defenseless grapes. She could eat an entire vineyard before making it to the check out lane. Oh, the check out lane. That's where she does her real damage. She knows all the pet peeves of her fellow shoppers and she exploits them with the zeal of a street preacher bent on populating heaven with freshly-saved souls. She laughs in the face of the 15 items or less lane, piling enough food on the conveyor to feed the 6th Fleet. She has no fear of recrimination. She thumbs her nose at cash or credit, preferring the molasses-flow of the check writing process. She waits until every item is rung up before delving into her Brobdingnagian purse to seek out the checkbook. She takes her time, because what is time? It is hers. No one else exists but her. This is her world, and the rest of us are just tourists. Watch her as she pushes the shopping cart slowly to her car. Yes, that is a smirk on her face.


Here's the woman running the register. Her name tag says that she is an “associate,” but she isn't fooled. She knows that she's being paid nothing to do a job that a trained monkey could probably manage. She has more chance of making it to the moon than she does of ever getting above the poverty line. But, it's not enough that she makes nothing and does a job whose drudgery causes a sort of non-surgical lobotomy. No, that's not enough. She also has to deal with customers who feel that they are the lords and ladies and she is but a vassal, a servant, someone hired specifically to eat their shit. The nicer customers simply use a tone of condescending exasperation when dealing with her. The less nice will insult everything from her weight to her ancestry. The lecherous will make lewd comments. The incompetent will make every transaction an eternity (that one lady who takes forever to find her checkbook, for example). The ones she likes the most are the ones who say nothing, who hand her their money without a word, pick up their bags and leave. Some nights, she thinks these people are angels descended to Earth, buying provisions for the Holy Host. And, at the end of her shift, after the yelling, the scowls, the poking and prodding and leering and the sore feet and the minute paycheck. After all that, as she's leaving, her manager tells her that she really should smile more.