Gettin’ Groceries

Alright, let’s see...did I get everything?

  • Rice
  • Pork shoulder
  • Recao
  • Tomato sauce
  • Onions
  • Ajíes dulces
  • Gandules
  • Garlic
  • Pack of water bottles

Eh, I’m sure I forgot something. I’ll find out later. I walk my cart over to the register to wait in line under the dying halogen ceiling lights. It’s always the same, what you have to look at while you wait. Scandals, tips for sex, recipes, homemaking, candy, and drinks. I wonder how a pigeon would design this experience? Various kinds of pigeon feed, best places to poop, showcases of luxurious places to take a nap and watch the sun rise...gosh that sounds refreshing. I wonder what the magazine names would be?

Oh no. The cashier’s lips were moving. They’re talking to me. When did it become my turn to check out? Okay I’m gonna just. Put all my groceries on the conveyor belt, avoid eye contact, and hope that if he had something important to say, he’ll repeat it. He checks the price tag of each item, types up the price and the barcode, and slides them down the belt. I’m nervously putting all the groceries in bags, hoping I don’t look as slow as I feel doing it. He continues to talk, as if I’d been listening this whole time.

“...isn’t it something that you used to be able to just take a device and just aim, click, and it’d automatically add it to your purchase? It was a lot quicker, and it would even print out coupons based on what you bought,” the cashier says, off-handedly.

I pause what I’m doing and process what he just said. I scrunch my face, furrow my brows, and tilt my head toward him. “Bullshit,” I say. “That sounds helpful, I don’t buy it.”

The cashier shrugs.“Helpful? I guess. I’d get yelled at for not going fast enough regardless.”

I nod appreciatively. I write a check with the total, hand it to him, and walk off.

I make my way to the bus station, awkwardly waddling along with my heavy bags. The humid heat never makes the trip easy. Trees, trees everywhere, but the shade never quite reaches most businesses or bus stops. I wonder if they fear that if they ever get close enough to either, they think they’ll be expected to get a job. The older I get the more stunned I become at the sheer amount of work that it takes to keep this body alive. Eating multiple times a day, sleeping enough hours, cleaning, exercise, cooking, commuting, work, socializing...god...I’m so tired. And you never get enough time to do it all, oh no. You need to pick which ones you need the most for the week and let the rest drop off.

I glance to my right and notice a clearing. A patch of dirt disintegrates into chunks of grass, slowly consumed by some trees and brush. I notice that it’s been quiet, and there are hardly any people walking around in the area. “Can’t blame them, this weather’s likely to take the life out of you,” I mumble out loud. It’s at that moment I notice a skeleton dressed like a jíbaro slip out from behind one of the trees, wading through the grass. With a straw hat, a white button up shirt, black slacks, a red handkerchief, and a watering can, they leisurely poke about. Aw fuck, I said something foolish, didn’t I? “Was that a request...?” they’ll probably say to me. That joke was in poor taste, I’m sorry. Oh no, can they read my thoughts? Oh dear. Time to make sure I don’t think anything untoward. Or did I already? Shit.

While I debate with myself whether I made a joke bad enough to merit my untimely death, the skeleton hunches over to water some of the plants at the base of the tree. Then, they inspect some of the branches of the bush next to them. Finally, they turn to look at me. Ah, right. Gonna go ahead and add staring to my list of offenses done today. You know, I don’t want to die this way. It’s too creepy. How do I break the tension here. Oh, I know!

I wave hello at the skeleton. The skeleton pauses, straightens up, then waves back. Finally, the skeleton wanders off. I realize I walked past my bus stop.