Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Humbling Experience


I needed four one-dollar bills to pay my bus fare tomorrow, so late this evening I walked to the nearby supermarket to break a five dollar bill.

All of the cashier stations are deserted after ten o'clock.  There are no helpful cashiers available to make change.  One must resort to the self-service barcode reader stations off to the side.

My mission was to find some foodstuff or household object costing less than one dollar.  This is no cinch in the modern supermarket.  Even the candy bars are 99 cents or $1.06 after sales tax.  Eventually I found a small container of mango lemonade for 88 cents or 94 cents after sales tax.

I scanned the mango lemonade at the self-service station, fed the five dollar bill into the slot, and received four crisp ones and six cents in change.  My mission was a success.

I walked outside and found a seat in the shadowy outdoor cafe area, lit at night only by oblique light through the supermarket windows.  I slouched back in a wire chair under the shelter of a canvas cafe umbrella and sipped my mango lemonade.

An elderly man -- a white-haired gent about seventy-five attired in a dress shirt and black pants -- made his way through the cafe area. 

"You're not staying here tonight, are you?" he asked.

"No, I plan to finish my lemonade and then walk home," I said.

"Good for you," he replied heartily and walked on.

Evidently, in dim light I more resemble a bum than a corporate middle manager.

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