The fellow waiting behind me at the market didn’t seem annoyed, or impatient, and I didn’t intend to give him any reason to be. I tried to load all of my shopping into my backpack as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The clerk was handing me bottles as he was scanning them.
“You’re going to carry all of this home…in that?” he asked.
(With a respectful tone, nonetheless.)
The “this” was, collectively, ten one-liter bottles of Schweppes seltzer water (assorted flavors). His skepticism was understandable, particularly given that it was about fifteen degrees outside.
“Yeah, I know,” I said, continuing the load-up. “I try to walk instead of drive if it’s only a couple of miles. But I didn’t know you guys were having a great sale on something I drink a lot of. Oh, well.”
Back to that next man in line.
“Jesus,” he said. “I left my teenage son in the car. He told me it was too cold to walk across the parking lot.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the mental image of this fine man wrestling several bags of groceries back into his car (without any help) and then telling his son the story about the overweight, middle-aged geek who was about to walk home in fifteen degree weather with about 25 pounds of liquids on his back by choice will inspire me far, far more than any cartoon achievement icon that might appear on any of my wearable or pocketable devices.
(I will even forgive him for describing me as “knocking on the back door of 300 pounds and the front door of death,” if it will encourage the lad to dig deeper within himself. I won’t forgive him for yelling. I won’t approve of him clopping his son across the back of the head with his winter driving gloves, but I can’t pretend the image doesn’t amuse me.)