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Human Kindness

What I Need Is an Empty Bag

My wife, Lisa, had asked me to buy a few grocery items from Vons, a supermarket within a ¼ mile from our home.  Because it was a rather small list, I decided to walk.  After paying the bill, the clerk asked if I wanted more than one bag.  I told her I did not, while squeezing milk, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, apples and ice cream bars in what I had thought was a sturdy container.

As I walked out of Vons, I realized I had underestimated the weight of my purchases, but I gave it no further reflection and proceeded homeward.  In taking a short cut by cutting through an alley, I sensed that what I was carrying felt fragile, and I contemplated to myself: “Goodness, what a holy mess this would be if the bag suddenly split.”  That thought should have dissuaded me from doing what I did next:  Transfer the bag to my other arm.  Unfortunately, although I was ambidextrous the bag was not:  It split in two flipping some of the strawberries in all directions while leaving the remaining fruit intact.

After recovering the loose items on the ground, I put the groceries neatly in the middle of the torn bag and folded it over them.  The articles of food that did not fit into the open envelope of my makeshift receptacle, namely a pair of elongated cucumbers, I managed to stuff into my pants pockets.  With both arms cradling the perishables as tightly as I could, I trudged on, suddenly feeling the loosening of some of the contents.  Silently cursing my stupidity in not taking the extra bag offered by the clerk, I got down on my knees and rearranged everything as neatly and compactly as possible and hobbled forward.

At that moment, I recalled a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode I had seen eons ago, in which a little old man, who is a peddler of miscellaneous objects, could look into the future and know exactly what a person needed.  The thought had no relevance to my current plight, but nevertheless, the little man inside of me told me “what you need is an empty bag.”  Upon approaching the end of the alley that was intersected by a major street, I knew I was but two blocks from my house.  With cucumbers hanging out of my pockets, the juggling act I had to perform to keep things together forced me into a waddling gait:   Inching along, ever so slowly.

Suddenly, a black male popped out of his car and asked: “Sir, do you need a bag.”  In almost disbelief, I emphatically said: “Yes.”  He opened the backdoor of his car and pulled out a shopping bag.  When he gave me the bag, I mentioned how happy my wife would be about my getting all the things she wanted.  He wished that we both eat and enjoy the food.  I told him how thankful I was for his taking the time to help, and I wished him a long happy and healthy life.  He smiled.  As I walked across the pedestrian crossing, I waved my hand to him and he honked back.