Sometimes the world can get you down. That's my hackneyed observation for Thursday, August 11th, 2005.
This morning, I read bad news in the papers and received bad news from friends. The happy anecdote that follows serves as something of an antidote on this dim morning, and I hope that it will bolster the spirits of a few readers.
On Saturday afternoon, I took a break from the studio to do some food shopping. The local grocery store may not be much to look at, but it is surprisingly well-stocked and offers an impressive selection of organic foods. I often spend too long wandering the aisles, studying labels and comparing prices, but I find the routine enjoyable. Depending on my mood, it provides me with a good opportunity to refocus, to stop worrying about the state of the world or the progress of my painting.
This Saturday, I over-loaded my red, plastic basket and proceeded to the registers. The lines were short and I stepped in behind a young lady. I skimmed the magazine rack offerings. (For the record, Jennifer still loves Brad, and the Hilton sisters, American paragons of virtue and social conscience, are reportedly involved in a feud with various Hollywood A-list celebrities.) Lost in a world of photo re-touching and conspicuous consumption, I was startled to notice the cashier scanning the first of my items.
"I don't need you to bag anything. I'll just throw it in these," I said, gesturing toward the three canvas tote bags slung over my shoulder. Almost always, it seems that this statement is greeted with disdain. When I first started carrying tote bags to stores, I decided that I was imagining the dirty looks. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. Though I bag my own items, thereby saving clerks' time and energy, my tote bags typically baffle or annoy the store employees. Go figure.
I began packing my bags while the cashier continued to scan my items. A few moments later, I heard her curse quietly. She'd inadvertently hit the register's power button. "This might take a few minutes," she told me, anxiously. I used to have little patience for such situations, but I've grown more tolerant of brief delays and I also felt sorry for her, recalling my own Food Lion days.
While I waited, a couple stuck in line behind me talked about their dinner plans. I stood and stared out the window, half listening. My interest was piqued, however, when they began to talk about my bags.
"Look at the bags he uses, honey. That's a good idea."
"Yeah, we should use our tote bags. I have, like, three at home just getting dusty."
Then the register came back on line. I paid my bill, shouldered the tote bags and made my way home feeling pretty good, all in all.
Sometimes the little things can seem so satisfying. That was my hackneyed observation for Saturday, August 6th, 2005.