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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Patience (08/21/08)

TITLE: Worth the wait?
By Gregory Kane


I sometimes wonder if Hell will be like this. Forget the fire, brimstone and pitchforks. Seven trolleys ahead of me, three behind, and a girl on the check-out who looks as if sheís resorted to counting on her fingers to tally up the total. Make this last for eternity and I reckon you could get rid of old pointy-horns and no one would notice.

It wouldnít be so bad if they would open another lane. That would be a sensible thing to do but I read somewhere that store managers have to fail an IQ test to work here. I once made a point of asking loudly if there was anyone else in the premises who knew how to operate a till. But a security guard threatened to evict me from my place in the queue and since then Iíve learned to stay mum. So I wait. Impatiently.

My pastor thinks we should use such opportunities to evangelise our fellow unfortunates. I took him up on this one time but it was an unmitigated disaster. I was halfway through my chatty preamble when my would-be victim asked if I knew that I had spinach in my teeth. Talk about killing a conversation dead in its tracks. All the way up to the check-out I kept expecting someone to tap me on the shoulder and offer me a packet of dental floss. So Iíll pass on the ďBible-bash my fellow shopaholicĒ programme. Besides, I did have green salad for lunch and you can never be too careful.

Oh no, the guy by the till wants to write a cheque. Whatís wrong with plastic - or even cash? Theyíre, like, q-u-i-c-k! No one uses cheques any more. The silly girl probably wonít even know what to do- yep, there goes the bell. Now we have to wait for the manager to drag himself downstairs from his office. Whatís this? Mr Stuck-in-the-20th-century is asking for a pen. In these days of chip-and-pin they donít keep pens by the till any more. Maybe the old lady next in line will have one in her handbag. Maybe weíll all rot here until closing time.

Deep down I know that I could use these long waits better. For instance I could pray about all sorts of stuff: the church; the Government; my husband and kids; the credit crunch; the hunt for Osama bin Laden; my husband; the cost of chocolate muffins; world oil prices; my husband needs loads of prayer; that little girl down the street whoís always crying... The problem is that I tend to move my lips when I pray and invariably people start giving me odd looks. I know weíre meant to be fools for Christ but Iím in real danger of being labelled ďthe spinach-toothed loony in the slow lane at the supermarket.Ē Maybe itís safer praying at home.

Oops, didnít get any washing powder and I used the last this morning. On a good day Iíd grovel to the person next in line and make a dash for the necessary lane. But I donít fancy my chances today. The woman behind me has got a poodle in her handbag, something skinned and left for dead round her neck and, whatís worse, there are only three items in her trolley. So the moment I beg a favour from her, sheís guaranteed to make a pitch for my letting her on ahead. I did this once and the old dear kept us all waiting an extra 20 minutes while she paid for her shopping with a purse full of small change. However, since Iíve neither tried praying nor preaching, the fur lady canít know Iím a Christian. So I neednít feel bad about turning a blind eye to her three items. Shame about the washing powder though - the kidsíll have to dig their stinky socks out of the laundry basket.

Weíre moving much faster now - only one more person ahead of me. My pastorís always going on about how God shapes our characters, how he uses the knocks of life to make us more like Jesus. Iím just not sure that itís working for me. I reckon that Iím becoming more selfish, more irritable and definitely more impatient the older I get. Maybe this born-again business isnít all itís cracked up to be? Either that or Iím missing out on something pretty fundamental.

Swipe card, pack, lug bags to the car, lean on the horn until I get home. Impatiently.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/30/08
Your piece is very entertaining. I enjoyed the voice "dripping" with sarcasm.
Betsy Markman08/30/08
Terrific voice for the MC! I could see and feel everything she was going through. Great word choices.
I hope the dear soul really does take a long, hard look at what being "born again" does and does not mean to her...and what it should mean.
Dee Yoder 08/31/08
Been there and it just doesn't seem to get any easier! The MC is familiar to me because I see myself and my reactions in her...patience in line is not my forte.