Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)
TITLE: The Laughing Cashier
By Leola Ogle
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Mona loves people. “I could never be a hermit,” she tells her husband, Ed. “I’d miss people too much.” Being a cashier at Food Boss Groceries is the perfect job for her. “Yep, God put me there,” she tells Ed. “I’m with people all day long.” She loves to tell him stories about the people who shop there. “I have my regulars, people who make sure they get in my line.”
“There’s Molly, now she’s a sweet grandmotherly lady. Just love her. She likes me because I never say a word about that bottle of whiskey sandwiched between the cat food and loaf of bread. Same thing every week, Ed. It’s not my place to judge, no sir. She’s kind and friendly, could be worse things.”
“That’s nice,” Ed murmurs.
“Then Ralph, what a character, acting so tough with his tattoos and piercings. Looks scary, but has a tender heart, always puts money in those donation jars no matter what it’s for. He buys mostly fresh vegetables and fruit, salad stuff. Guess that’s why he’s so wiry.”
“Probably a vegan,” Ed mumbles, not taking his eyes off the television.
“Not sure what vegan is. Don’t throw big words around, Ed, like you’re smarter than me. Have I told you about Abby? Cute gal with cute kids. Hate it when she’s in my line, though. Those kids are so hyped up on sugar. Abby’s cart is always full of sugar cereal, cookies, and whatnot. That three-year-old and five-year-old pull candy and gum off the rack and toss them on the belt like it’s a game. Abby never says no to them. Yep, tried to tell her once how all that sugar isn’t good for kids, but she just looked at me like I’m daft in the head. What can I do, Ed? I tried.”
“Ed, are you listening to me?”
“Of course. Abby buys sugar, Ralph eats salads and Molly’s a closet alcoholic.”
Crossing her arms, she says, “Goodness, Ed, I didn’t say anything of the kind about Molly.”
“Humph,” Mona says, continuing on. “Now Dora and Mike, they’re in their eighties. It’s sweet how they love each other, holding hands and such. Breaks my heart how they can’t buy much, on a fixed income, those two. They shop every Wednesday, so you know what I do, Ed? Now stop me if I’ve told you this before. I buy a few groceries when I get to work, put the bag in that space underneath my register. When they go through my line, I give it to them, tell them it’s items that don’t sell and my boss was going to throw it away. Now that’s a lie, but I’m sure God don’t mind at all, do you, Ed?”
“Yup, God’s happy,” Ed says as he switches channels with the remote.
“Not sure if He’s happy, but He’s not mad at me. He’d tell me if he was. I love my job, Ed, I sure do. Wish I could give free groceries to everyone. Well, not rich people, but I don’t think rich people shop at Food Boss, Ed. What do you think?”
Ed chuckles at something on television.
“Are you listening, Ed? I guess not, so I’ll just put the groceries away and go to bed. Gotta work ten hours tomorrow.”
“Now, now, honey, I love your stories. Give your hubby a kiss.”
Sighing, Mona kisses him and grins. “I love people and I love my job. Tomorrow will be a good day.”
And it was a good day, at least for a few hours, until that crazed man stuck the gun in Mona’s face. She just stared at first, her eyes widening in shock, the belt humming from the groceries the gunman had put there. Her hand flew to her mouth trying to stifle the sound coming out. People may have thought she was going to cry or scream, but that wasn’t so. It was laughter, the rumbling, belly kind that can’t be stopped.
The gunman just stared, unable to believe Mona was laughing. It was when she asked, “Are you paying for these groceries or not?” that two bagboys tackled him to the ground.
Ed had to chuckle later while watching his wife on the evening news. Imagine that, his sweet Mona on the news.
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