A Short Story

I do this every time. I buy way too many groceries at Trader Joe’s and struggle the whole way home.

“Getting salad stuff at tjs want anything else??” I texted my girlfriend from 30th Street Station on my way home from work.

“Smart water. And strawberries.”

It’s only a half mile. But when you’re carrying an empty stainless steel coffee Thermos, 15″ MacBook Air, 2 cans of chickpeas, 12 ounces of almonds, 3 apples, 2 bananas, 2 jars of marinara sauce, Smart Water for the girlfriend, a block of Parmesan cheese, and a respectable assortment of produce—it feels like a lot.

I struck up a conversation with the checkout girl. Part since I once had that same job, ringing up annoyed twentysomethings for an hour, and part because I was in an outgoing mood. And part because she was kind of cute.

We chatted about the usual stuff as I placed things into my beige canvas bag and she ran a green box of frozen veggie burgers past the sparkly red barcode beam. We discussed the quality of our days with the obligatory lack of depth; debated the amount of calories in a box of Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches; and avoided talking about the weather, a testament to our conversational aptitude.

Now regretting my Smart Water generosity and the two jars of marinara sauce, I grabbed a brown paper bag and tossed in a few things from the conveyor belt. Better to be balanced with two bags for the walk home, I figured. I’m not sure she saw me grab the extra bag.

When the receipt cut itself free from the tiny roll of paper, A., Mandy said with what I presume was earnest sincerity, “thanks for remembering to bring your own bag.” She then placed a yellow no. 2 pencil and little pink raffle ticket on the wooden counter. “You know what to do with this, I’m sure.”

I scribbled my first name and phone number on the ticket and grabbed the canvas bag,—then—while avoiding eye contact—the paper bag. I dropped the raffle ticket in the wood box with the little window on the front, wondering when she noticed I had taken the extra non-reusable bag, and if she was regretting any of her decisions.

Life Update

I haven’t been saying much around here lately — apologies! I started a new job last week at Trader Joe’s — definitely a step up from barista-land. It’s hard work but a lot of fun too. Since I’m in-between jobs I’m putting in a total of 96 hours over two weeks, which doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

I’ll be back soon though, promise.