Sunday, June 06, 2004

Plastic or paper?

The man was in a wheelchair, his head looking down on the package of dried beans he had just filled from the bulk section of the supermarket. I was going toward him and wanted to pass between him and food display. I started with an hesitant "Excuse me sir". He looked up and I was taken aback by the hostility in his eyes. Something I had done wrong already? I stammered "I'd just like to sneak in by you" and smiled, trying to diffuse that first impression of being under attack. His eyes softened immediately and he moved himself a couple of inches. Inexplicably happy, I push my cart thanking him as I was walking by him.

I was behind him at the check-out lane when the cashier, a young woman with pink painted fingernails, shouted to someone a couple of lines away "What do I do with the food stamps?". I noticed the almost invisible slouch of his shoulders and the tilting of his head. The urge of punching her in the face overwhelmed me but I just mumbled "Paper, please" when she turned back to me.


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