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July 30, 2008
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Checking Out

I usually shop at a big grocery store across town where the prices are good and the people are anonymous.  I like it like that.  Get in and get out.  Smile and move on.  It's not always convenient to make the 20 minute drive and I sometimes have to walk into the local market.  It fills me with dread.  I used to work at this market. 

Ten years ago, I moved to Oregon with my wife (then fiance) because she landed a pretty good job. It was paying more than what we were both bringing in working full-time for the U.S.F.S.  Well, I needed to do something other than play video games (she said) so I applied everywhere for random jobs.  The grocery store called me first.  I was hired as a produce guy.  I had no produce experience but the interviewer said that my B.S. degree in forestry was sufficient education to be hired for the job because it's kind of like agriculture.  That was a reach and I appreciate her doing that because it meant an extra 12 cents an hour over being a cart-pusher.  I had no idea that my four year (it took me 9 years) degree would help me get work crisping lettuce and facing off carrot displays.  But I'm off-track.

The reason I dread shopping at this market is because I'm not anonymous.  And I guess I just don't like many people.  At least not many checkers.   As I approach the check-out area, I check my options.  I can't use the express lane because it's the girl who comments on everyone's cart contents. 

"Wow.  Look at all that beer.  I guess the party's at your house later."  No it isn't.  It's Tuesday.  And the party is never at my house. 

"Oh, looks like someone's having a barbeque".  It's actually spelled barbecue.  But I'm pretty sure she spells it with a "q".  I can't deal with her inferior interior spell-checker.  Not today.

Next register.  No way.  I once saw him shoot from the stall straight out the restroom door and back to his station and that was enough.  I would not trust him to handle a bottle of bleach..  And he's a pompous ass on top of it.

Next checker.  It's the short-timer.  She is pretty nice but she still checks my I.D.  I was 29 years old when I worked here and it's now 10 years later.  This is still my best option.  I check out.  She checks my I.D.  I bite my tongue really hard and I get through the transaction.

"Thank you, Butch.  You saved $32.52 shopping with us today."  No.  I didn't.  I wouldn't have purchased those things at the regular high prices.  I don't dare say that out loud because I just want to go home.  Would I ever consider working there again If the writing thing doesn't pan out?

The answer is in the riddle:  Take the "S" out of safe and the "F" out of way.

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