If there was a horn on her shopping cart, Lucy Keller would have been honking it. Instead, she released an exaggerated sigh that she hoped would reach the cashier and the lady in the front of the line. As the lady paused to search for more coupons in her bottomless purse, Lucy tapped her foot and rolled her eyes—knuckles turning white as she gripped her cart handle.
“Really? Is saving ten cents on a can of beans worth making me late?” Lucy bit her tongue, but knew it was only a matter of coupons before the fullness of her wrath went on display for all the grocery store to see.
When the coupon lady finally checked out, Lucy pushed her cart forward triumphantly.
“Sorry for the wait.” The cashier began slowly swiping items, struggling to work the scanner.
Lucy tapped her fingers on the counter and took an intentionally long look at her wristwatch.
“Did you see our specials today? Great deals on fruit in the produce section.” Taking a cereal box, the cashier turned to her register and hand-entered the barcode numbers in slow motion.
“Oh, I’m finished shopping.” Lucy raised her eyebrows and forced her lips into a tight smile. “And I’m kind of in a hurry.” She hoped the cashier would catch the hint.
“Excuse me.” The cashier held up her index finger then turned to page the manager, who appeared after several minutes.
When the manager finished re-training the cashier on the scanner, she turned to Lucy. “Don’t I know you from church?”
Lucy’s face was red as the tomatoes the cashier was scanning. “You clearly have no concept of time and forget that your customers have more important things to do than to wait endlessly while you wrestle with such trivial things as coupons, scanners and small talk.” Wondering if she’d actually spoken what she’d been thinking, Lucy brought her hand to her mouth.
The cashier stopped scanning and the manager just stared, while Lucy fixed her eyes on her un-bagged groceries.
“You really should check out the fruit in our produce section. We have some great deals today.” With shaking hands, the manager held out a sales paper.
Finally escaping the store, Lucy barreled her cart through the parking lot and slammed each bag into her trunk. Backing out of her spot with squealing tires, she knocked over the fruit special sign then screeched ahead. Seven red lights, a freight train and a stream of rush hour traffic later—she was home.
“What took you so long, dear?” Her husband Cal was sitting on the recliner—newspaper in one hand, coffee in the other, dog on his lap and baseball on the television.
In the midst of balancing grocery bags, Lucy made sure to shoot him a look that could burn a hole through the newspaper and melt his coffee cup.
He shook his head and went back to the paper. “All I did was ask what took you so long.”
Lucy answered by slamming each grocery bag on the counter.
Sighing, Cal got up from the chair. “If you want me to help with the groceries, you could just ask.”
Looking up from the whirlwind of plastic bags, Lucy paused to send another fatal look his way.
Avoiding her gaze, Cal picked up the sales paper. “Hey, did you check out today’s special? They’ve got some great fruit in the produce section.”
Growling, Lucy grabbed the paper, balled it up and threw it in the trash.
“Hey, I just thought we could use some more fruit this week. We’re kinda running low. You could sure use some.”
Turning her back to him, Lucy threw the cereal in the freezer.
“You know…the fruit of the spirit? Love, joy, peace…patience?” He emphasized the word patience and was met with an icy stare. “Kindness? Self-control?” He picked up one of the many chocolate bars she’d purchased.
Slumping her shoulders and sighing, Lucy turned to face her husband. “You know, you’re right. I really should go check out that sale. Why don’t you use some of that love and kindness to make me dinner while I run back to the grocery store?”
Cal stared blankly at her, about to take a bite of a chocolate bar. Looking from Lucy to the chocolate bar and back—he shrugged his shoulders. “On second thought, how about I go with you? I could use some of that fruit myself.”
Lucy turned to leave, and Cal quickly followed.
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