I stopped at the store after work to pick up a few things I could no longer live without…soup, bread, cookies, cat food, bananas, lettuce, stamps. Just enough to make a trip through the express lane worthwhile. This guy comes up behind me, says “hi” to the cashier really enthusiastically like he knows her, puts his stuff up on the counter, walks around me and asks me if I want paper or plastic.
So he gets out a paper bag and another, (double bagging!), and says he likes paper better, it’s easier to carry. “I actually do too,” I say, “But whenever I ask for paper it seems to cause a problem. He says “Oh yeah it does. They don’t like to give paper. And they’re probably upset right now that I double bagged.”
He continues to put all my stuff in the bag all nice and neat. He even puts my frozen food item and lettuce in a separate plastic bag. It’s possibly the most nicely packed bag of groceries I’ve ever had.
“Look at me. Acting like I know what I’m doing…like I work here,” he says.
“You mean you don’t?”
“No, I just figured I’d bag the groceries. I wasn’t doing anything else.”
I shoot the cashier a wtf look. She says “Yeah, I wasn’t sure what he was doing. Didn’t you say plastic?” She’s kind of old and dopey.
“I did, but paper’s better actually…but I thought he just got off work and figured he’d bag one last bag. I thought you knew him.”
“Oh I know him because he comes in here. But he doesn’t work here,” she says. Again. dopey.
“I really like paper,” he says again. (It’s not like he’s the Rainman. He just prefers paper.) “Look how nice that is. You can actually carry it.”
“It is nice. Thank you for bagging.”
“It’s just that maybe if you do some little thing for someone, something nice will come back to you – if you believe that stuff. Which I don’t.”
I think I just fell in love with a stranger. I’ve been home sick for 2 days and my voice is all screwed up and I’m coughing and sniffing and this guy just bagged my groceries with care and affection.
I don’t remember what he even looked like but I’m pretty sure he was an artist or a writer or maybe a cowboy.
I miss that guy.
Grocery store guy – come back. We’ll get coffee and talk about our favorite books. We’ll eat Lucky Charms and then I’ll wash the dishes while you dry. We’ll listen to the Sophtware Slump. We’ll read newspaper articles to each other. We’ll count the stars.
Come back grocery store guy.