I stopped off at the local grocery store to pick up a few odds and ends tonight. Before entering the store itself, I noticed the large containers of pumpkins and stopped to dig through them in hopes of finding the perfect specimen for a Jack-O-Lantern.
As I was doing this, a young man approached me with several pumpkins already in his shopping cart.
“Excuse me, how much do pumpkins weigh?” he asked.
I was dumbfounded. How in the world was I supposed to know that? Also, why in the heck was he asking me? Did I look like some type of pumpkin expert? For a brief instant I wondered if this were a previous student from years before, trying to be funny. A second later I discarded the idea…he was too old to have been one of my fourth graders from my first year’s teaching.
“Um, that all depends,” I responded uncertainly. “On the size of each pumpkin.” I hefted a medium-sized squash in my hands and quickly estimated its weight. “This one weighs about nine pounds and therefore would cost about seventy-five cents.”
The man looked thoughtful then asked, “How much would it cost for all of these?” He indicated the eight or nine pumpkins in his cart…some large, some medium.
I shrugged. “I’d estimate your total weight at somewhere around ninety pounds, at nine cents a pound you’re looking at something just under ten dollars after tax.”
The young man thanked me and went on his way.
I shook my head. That was weird.
I moved into the building and was greeted by an old student now working at the store, and then by a friend I hadn’t seen for a lifetime or two. I chatted with each of them in turn and then found myself approached by another patron in the meat department.
“Where could I find your frozen chicken breasts?”
At home in my freezer. I thought silently.
I was again dumbfounded but pointed the man to an aisle where the frozen meats were housed.
I again shook my head and continued shopping.
It wasn’t long before another individual approached me, wondering if I could I point her to the blank CDs; she had looked everywhere and couldn’t find them.
That’s when it hit me.
They all thought I worked here!
You see I’d left school still dressed in my customary black slacks, white shirt, and tie; I looked like a professional. I must have looked like the manager.
To be honest, I was flattered.
I started to walk around the store and whenever asked for assistance, I willingly gave it, fully taking on the role of Macey’s Grocery Store manager. I even offered help to a few folks who were lost in looking for a particular item.
It was fun. I think I even sent most of them in the right direction.
I made my way to checkout and paid for my items. As I was walking to the front door an elderly woman approached me. “Excuse me, young man,” she said in her cracking voice. “Why is everybody crowded around the pumpkins like that? What’s going on?”
“The pumpkins? Oh, you see the reason they’re there is because right now we’ve got a spectacular sale going on,” I responded. “At eight cents a pound, you’d be hard pressed to find a better deal anywhere else in town.” I paused. “And I’m not just saying that because we’re standing here at Macey’s, but simply because it’s a great deal.”
The woman nodded and proceeded to tell me about her grandkids, she told me about wanting to have enough pumpkins for all of them to carve. She chatted on about her garden and her dismally failed attempts at growing her own. After a few minutes she wandered happily into the store.
I gathered up my bags and headed out to my car.
As I eased into the driver’s seat and started the ignition I gave a sigh of relief. I had finished yet another job and had helped a dozen or less people at the end of their own days.
I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m the recipient the employee of the month award…