One Final Note of the Night

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise.

Proverbs 17:28

On my desk is a book I flip through, reading the different writings and quotes, epigrams, sutras, and quips when my mind feels like it’s going to tap out. Or is tapped out. Phillip’s Book of Great Thoughts Funny Sayings, by Bob Phillips is a comfort tool – a literary medication designed to make the mind – my mind, at least – well maintained, much like keeping up with changing the oil in your vehicle… yet, different.

One of the great things about the book is the inclusion of so many diverse thoughts and writings published in one convenient volume. Everyone from the ever-included-in-every-compilation-of-quotes, Bill Shakespeare and Mark Twain, to diverse thinkers such as Publilius Syrus. I’m not one to go with one side or another. I prefer to be on the outskirts, making up my own mind. I do, however, care about putting information into my system, and being exposed and familiar with various worlds of thought.

Before I shut everything down, turn off lights, and go up to my wife and bed, I’d like to share a little story with you all.

We, Tara and I, were shopping at Dollar General. It’s the closest thing to a store within a not-that-big-of-a-pain-the-ass to drive to. I don’t even remember what it was we needed to buy. My mind was elsewhere. Earlier in the day, I was reading in our newspaper, The Wilkes Journal-Patriot, about books being banned at the local high school.

What a waste, I thought.

A waste of time… a waste of energy.

Why ban a book? Ban the internet, or cell phones, instead.

Anyway, this mind-funk I was in followed me into the store. I barely looked at the items stocked on the shelves. Normally, I would at least TRY to remember something I might need. Shampoo, super glue – anything, really. Not at that moment. I was in a numbing daze.

By the time we reached the checkout line, I could be even more subdued, not having to think about walking. I was looking at a display of new DVDs, wondering when the day will come when they, like so many things, become obsolete… maybe even BANNED.

Tara was nudging my side. She was trying to get me to pay attention to something. I started looking around. There was a kid in front of us. He had been with the cashier for a while, I supposed but was unsure. Then I knew what Tara wanted me to pick up on.

“His mother’s credit card has been declined,” she said.

The cashier was in fact removing items, re-ringing his total up, and trying to come to an agreeable figure the credit card would accept. Items that were obviously groceries for a few days… or day. Milk, bread, cold cuts – NOT trash, fun purchases of a child.

“Let’s help him,” she said, looking at me with determined eyes. Eyes that also told me I was going to be the one to dance through the act.

I got the credit card out.

“Ma’am,” I said to the cashier, “could you ring this guy up with us?”

The cashier seemed stunned. The kid turned and looked at me, as well. I’m not sure what his expression conveyed, nor did I care. He was going to get his food. ALL OF HIS FOOD. We made sure the cashier re-rang the items she had discarded back onto the purchase. The kid, I’ll call him Wallie, shook my hand, thanked me, and carried his bags away.

$58.37.

That’s what Mr. Wallie’s total was.

On the ride home, my wife told me she remembered the days when she was that kid at the grocery store trying to figure out what to keep and what was expendable. And I can remember the days when starving was just as common as grocery shopping is to most folks.

Have a Happy Halloween, Wallie.

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