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Our Town – March 8, 2012

| Our Town, Small Town Stuff, Work | March 8, 2012

Originally Published March 6, 2003

The grocery store was packed. The Soupster had to walk sideways down the Canned Tomatoes aisle to pass the shopping carts parked on the left side and then the right. Unusual for Our Town, a long line of shoppers waited impatiently at the checkout stand.

When the Soupster finally got to the front of the line, he saw the reason for the delay. The young woman at the cash register was as overcareful with each transaction as a cat pacing the rim of a steamy bathtub.

She meticulously rotated each food item in her hand to find the UPC code, and then drew the item across the scanner with a kind of dreamy slowness. She smiled individually at each person in line, looking for validation, then, with effort, picked up the next food item. The Soupster shifted his weight from one foot to the other. So did everyone in the line steadily growing behind the Soupster.

People had started to clear their throats, when a man in his 30’s with a badge that said “Asst. Mgr.” swept up behind the counter next to the cashier.

“Kathy! You are to call for help when the line gets this long,” he said in a theatrical whisper, meant for everyone to hear. “You should never let the line get this long, Kathy!”

“Ma’am,” the Asst. Mgr. said over-solicitously to the woman behind the Soupster. “All of you, come with me,” he pointed to the entire line and they moved with him to another checkout stand.

The young cashier’s face reddened. Only halfway through his transaction, the Soupster stood alone now before her. She went back to her slow-motion scanning of the Soupster’s few items. Meanwhile, the first members of the Asst. Mgr.’s line were already picking up their grocery bags and walking out the door.

“Sorry,” the Kathy said, looking downcast.

“No problem,” said the Soupster. “First day on the job?”

She nodded. “Probably going to be my only day,” she said and, indeed, the Asst. Mgr. was shooting daggers her way hidden behind the bland smile he showed his customers.

“Keep at it,” said the Soupster.

“I said DON’T RUSH ME!” came a loud, deep voice from the other register. The Soupster and the young cashier turned.

A very large man loomed over the Asst. Mgr., who was pinned against the back wall of his checkout station. The man slammed down his wallet and leaned forward in the direction of the Asst. Mgr. who looked extremely flustered and ready to bolt.

“Manny,” said Kathy, the young cashier, and slipped from her workstation seamlessly beside her trembling co-worker. “Manny, Manny, Many, cool your jets,” she laughed and poked the big man in the chest. Manny laughed. The Asst.. Mgr. visibly unstiffened.

The cashier returned to the Soupster. She looked a lot happier than a minute before. “Will there be anything else, Sir?” she asked sweetly.

“I think you got your job back, Kathy,” the Soupster answered.

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What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

Contact us with your idea or completed piece. Our Town’s must be 450-500 words long, take place in or near Sitka and the Soupster must make an appearance, however brief.

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