BJ participates in a writing group that posts from a common word or expression once a week. I thought I'd finally give it a go this time around. The link to that site is at the bottom of this post.
Hope you enjoy.
"Good grief, a dollar forty-nine a pound!" With a detectable amount of agitation in her voice, Karen continued, "I can't believe how much a weekly trip to the supermarket costs anymore."
Even though the two women standing in front of the neatly displayed rows of organic vegetables had never met before, the second one knew Karen's words were intended for her ears. Obliging the invitation for a conversation, she offered up, "I know what you mean. It seems like everywhere you go these days the prices escalate faster than you can keep up with."
Karen, sensing she had gained an instant ally, nodded in agreement. "I remember not too long ago being able to fill this entire shopping cart with groceries, then hand the checker a hundred dollars and expect to get change back. Now it only takes a couple of bags to get to that point!"
The two ladies spent the next several minutes comparing notes on the prices of groceries, gasoline, trips to the orthodontist for their children's braces, and a host of other such household expenses. After exhausting their respective lists of immediate financial concerns, they decided it was time to get back to the task at hand, filling their carts with gold bouillon as they so eloquently described it.
Before parting, Karen extended her hand and said, "My name's Karen by the way."
The other woman shook her hand and replied, "Hello Karen By-the-way, nice to meet you. I'm Celia."
This garnered a good chuckle from both of them, and helped to lighten the air a bit. It also gave Karen cause to say, "Celia, thank you for listening to me. I really hope I didn't come off as sounding like a complainer. I'm not typically one to harp on the negative side of stuff, but it's been a tough month with the bills at home, and I guess I just needed someone to let it out with."
"Don't be silly," Celia quickly interjected. "I didn't get the impression that you were anything but a sweetheart from the get go, and I don't think there are many people out there that can't relate to having a rough stretch where money and bills are concerned. Lord knows my husband and I certainly endured enough of them when we were younger. Things eventually turned around for us, and they will for you too my dear, you'll see."
Karen fought back a tear as Celia's comforting words touched her heart. "I'm sure somehow they will. thank you."
The two women parted ways and went about their shopping, zig zagging up and back through the isles. They would occasionally pass by one another, and each time would exchange smiles or a pleasant comment. Eventually, they ended up at the far end of the store in front of the dairy case. Karen picked up two gallons of 2% reduced fat milk while Celia reached for a half gallon of organic whole milk.
Karen looked at Celia and said, "With as much of this stuff as we go through around our place, this is just one area where I can't seem to justify the difference between organic and regular."
Celia had too much passion to let this go with an easy 'I understand' type of response. "Karen, I'd like to be able to agree with you on this one, but I just can't. I've done too much research and read too many articles about the dangers of rbST hormones and other additives in dairy feed to make me choose anything else. I know you've already told me money is tight right now, but I'd really encourage you to do your homework before dismissing this purchase simply on the merits of cost."
Karen got a somewhat guilty look on her face, but insisted, "I'm sure what you're saying is probably true, but I'm afraid today's purchase has to be about dollars and cents. I really am being conservative with what I'm buying these days. That means no extras or unnecessary items that aren't on my list. That also means that with the things I do get, I have to be very conscientious of the price."
"I know dear, and I don't mean to preach. I just have very strong feelings on this particular issue." was Celia's response. "I've been pleading my case with the senior Mr Jacobs over the past several months to drop anything but organic dairy from the shelves, but so far it hasn't done any good."
"The senior Mr Jacobs?" Karen asked.
"Jacobs, as in Jacobson Market, where we're standing right now." explained Celia, "He's the founders son and current majority owner of the supermarket. His son Pat and Pat's wife have taken up much of the day to day operations of the business and will someday step in to take his place as the next owners. They seem to have some very progressive ideas about what to do with the store as well, but until then, the older Jacobs is the one who ultimately makes the decisions."
Celia wrapped it up by continuing with, "Well, perhaps that's enough of my soapbox moment. I should probably let you get going."
Karen looked Celia in the eyes and said, "Thank you for being so passionate about what you believe in. There aren't nearly enough people in the world who are willing to speak up for what they feel so strongly about, nor to do it in a way that is as easy to listen to as what you've just done. I do hope we'll bump into each other again here. It's been fun getting acquainted with you."
"Oh, I'm sure we will Karen. I'm in here pretty regularly. Take care." Celia made her way to the front of the store while Karen picked up the last few items on her list.
A few moments later Karen was standing at the check-out line herself. As she stood there waiting her turn, she saw her new found friend leaving through the front doors with a courtesy clerk in tow, pushing her cart of groceries out towards the parking lot. Another minute or two later and it was her turn. The checker began ringing up the groceries and Karen snickered a bit to herself as the register's display passed the one hundred dollar mark.
She had estimated the total would be around a hundred and fifty dollars, but was pleasantly surprised when the final number came up at just under one-thirty. What happened next just about knocked Karen off her feet though. When she handed the checker her debit card, the young woman standing behind the counter just smiled and said, "I'm happy to say that that won't be necessary."
"It what?" was all the astonished Karen could muster.
Still smiling, the checker said, "Mrs Jacobs has graciously picked up your shopping today."
At the same time she was saying this, another courtesy clerk had made his way to the check stand and placed two gallons of organic milk in her basket. The checker continued, "Oh, and she asked to be sure and give you these too."
As soon as she gained her composure, Karen darted to the front of the store to thank the woman who she'd struck up a conversation with in the produce section only a half hour earlier. The courtesy clerk that had taken Mrs Jacobs. . .er Celia's groceries out was already heading back inside. Karen quickly asked, "Excuse me, where's the woman you just helped out?"
"Oh, Mrs Jacobs?" he replied, pointing to a black Mercedes puling out of the parking lot "That's her leaving over there."
Karen stood there and watched as her generous friend raised a hand through the sunroof and waved as she drove off.
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