Thank you for joining me for my first time…
First blog post.
First story in newsprint.
First story about Wal-Mart.
…It will not be the last! Check back every Thursday for updates.
A toddler’s frantic wail was upended when the cashier exclaimed “Oh, uh-uh” in that manner only a disapproving black woman could. At once, everyone in the vicinity of lane twenty-nine turned their attention to the screaming child bobbing on his mother’s left hip. Her stringy blonde hair jerked with her useless bounce and then swung as she moved her groceries from bagging spindle to trolley. Tiny gasps like a breathing accordion went down the line. The murmurs rose when the little boy’s screams resumed. He pointed his ruddy little fingers at a plastic bag being transferred in his mother’s hand. He had been screaming throughout the entire checkout process but now it was gossip-worthy. His tiny fists paraded across his mom’s face, over her chest, and she merely grabbed at his flying fury. No reprimand.
It went on like that, unbridled childhood ego dominating adult logic and pride. The onlookers had varying expressions of disgust, understanding, and apathy. The sigh from the high-chested woman pronouncing the total was loaded with rough disdain. Her impatient face suggested that she had spanked the child at least twice in her mind already; that by now he’d be calling her “Ma’am”, sitting scolded on the crook of her jutted hip. As she printed the receipt, the blonde woman reached across the counter to grab it with steely gray eyes and set jaw, ready to force the plump, overly judgmental woman out of her business. Despite her hastened retreat, the bawling corralled the pair to the nearest exit.
The child’s screams got louder, powerful enough to silence the conversations around them. The front wheels of the shopping cart had almost breached the Walmart greeter’s sphere when the shout: “Hey Lady!” stopped the mother’s march. The lively red under her skin deepened as she turned around.
She saw the cashier bound toward her, jiggling with every step. With a grunt, she managed to get the tyrannical boy into the cart’s seat. The passing shoppers slowed as if they knew something extraordinary was about to happen, their necks prying, distorted. The mother’s flip flops and the employee’s sneakers stopped at invisible boundary lines drawn between the women. A moment passed with an exchange of muttered words clipped to the end of it like footnotes. Then there were expletives like sputtering hail charging from the woman whose pail waif-like figure stood in stark contrast to her words. She ended her high pitched crescendo saying, “…get off your high horse, you don’t know what its like!”
She spoke while the underscore of a child’s screech exhausted from his own cries kept the air hot with tension. The bystanders stood waiting for the cashier’s rebuttal, their faces all washed over with the white of shock. “I ain’t losing my job today ‘cause of my body language or facial expression, ‘cause didn’t say nothing,” the cashier said. The loud annoyance in her tone punctuated as she reared back on the syllables, pronouncing each as singular words. “You forgot your bag, lady.”
story by Maxie Steer, all rights reserved