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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)

TITLE: In the Medical Field
By Brenda Shipman


Why had this simple task become so burdensome? It’s not like I had to plant it, grow it, harvest it, can it, kill it, or butcher it. I was not a hunter/gatherer, for Pete’s sake. All I had to do was walk through the nicely air conditioned aisles of the grocery store, pick out the items I wanted and drop them in my shopping cart.

But I was tired…and hungry…and felt a bit like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress – trudging through the day with a heavy load.

I grabbed a cart in front of the store, sighed and headed for the entrance. A huge bin of watermelons sat just outside the door, so I stopped and began the mysterious process of picking out the perfect melon. While “knocking” on each melon (my mom’s surefire approach), a man walked over to me and said, “You wanna know the best way to pick out a watermelon?” I told him my own method. He said, “No, you look at the end opposite the stem and if you push your thumb into it and it’s just a little bit soft, it’s ripe.” Then he looked at me, and in all seriousness said, “I’m in the medical field.” I stared at him, trying to connect watermelons with the medical field and come up with a response, but all I said was, “Well, thanks. That’s really helpful.” Okaaay... A few minutes later, a lady eagerly asked, "I heard that guy giving you advice on watermelons. What did he say?" So I told her, and to validate his expertise, I threw in that he was in the medical field.

I moved on into the produce department and spotted cherries on sale. Now I was raised by a mother (yes, my watermelon-knocking mom) who had no qualms about “sampling” a grape or a cherry before she bought them. Who wants to pay $3 a pound for a bunch of sour grapes or cherries? So, in my small way of honoring my mother, I did the same thing. Popped a cherry right into my mouth without the slightest worry over salmonella, parasites, or any other nasty creepy crawly thing. It was sweet and juicy. I dropped a bag of them into my cart.

Next on my list - cantaloupe. Now with this particular melon, I am savvy enough to know that you do not thump or knock a cantaloupe to determine its ripeness. You smell it. I was taking my first whiff, when another lady pointed at me and yelled to the produce guy, “That lady stole a cherry!” I stopped mid-sniff, dropped my jaw in mock indignation, and looked at the produce guy for support. He grinned, shook his head and kept on stacking the lemons. I turned to my accuser, “I can’t believe you tattled on me! I was just making sure they weren’t coated in pesticides. In fact, I may have saved your life by sampling those cherries!” She snickered in good humor, “Thief.”

My accuser and I ended up traveling in opposite directions on every aisle of the store and it turned into a game. As we passed each other, we’d mumble a snide comment, “I’ll never forgive you for ratting on me”… “I still can’t believe you stole that cherry”… “Haven’t YOU ever sampled fruit before?” … “Thought you’d get away with it, didn’t you?” … Finally, on the last aisle, we stopped and just had ourselves a good giggle. She asked me what my name was, I asked for hers. For one brief second, I think we both thought, “You know, given the chance, we just might become good friends.”

As I pushed my cart to the checkout, it occurred to me that I was smiling all over inside. I may have even been humming some happy little tune.

Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine.” I entered that grocery story with a heavy heart, expecting to simply “get my stuff and get out”. But God gave me more than groceries, He gave me joy…among the watermelons, cantaloupes and a stolen cherry. I do believe He is an expert at picking the perfect quirky medicinal moments of joy to lighten our days. In fact, I think He is absolutely in the medical field.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/23/12
Oh how I needed this giggle. I positively adored your story and could picture every bit of it! I thought at first maybe you had a chronic illness which makes shopping so much harder on the body than it should be. I'm glad you took me to the unexpected. I, surely didn't expect the MC to be a cherry-pickin' thief! Actually when you popped the fruit in your mouth my first thought was that's stealing! My second was what did happened to the pit. This was a fun read from beginning to end and you even threw in a lovely message and reminder that our attitudes can make such a difference. It's a lesson I needed right now.
C D Swanson 08/24/12
Hahahaha! I enjoyed this cute story with mirth and a strong message to boot.

Good job. Thanks.
God bless~
Laura Hawbaker08/26/12
Good writing, good strong sentences. I like the light hearted humor. Choosing a melon can be a bit stressful!
Danielle King 08/29/12
I enjoyed this little tale very much and was so into it that I became concerned about your 'knocked off' cherry stone. I was expecting you to spit it out at the accuser who tattled on you. Did you swallow it?
Leola Ogle 08/30/12
Congrats Brenda! Good job!
Laura Hawbaker08/31/12
Way to go! Good writing!
C D Swanson 08/31/12
Congrats...God bless