The sign over the cash register read 15 Items or Less. Warren stuffed Mrs. Kennedy’s boxes of Smack Ramen, cherry Jell-O, and licorice whips into the sack, counting each one. At twenty-nine, he opened his mouth to tell the old bat to get in the other lane.
Janelle shushed him as she ran the cash register. Then she smiled sweetly at Ms. Kennedy and said, “That’ll be $25.19.”
The old bat dragged a wrinkled twenty, five ones, and nineteen pennies from her change purse. Janelle scooped the money off the counter, winking at Warren. He started to smile, but then the boss suddenly showed up.
Dave tapped Janelle on the shoulder. “I need you in my office. Close up.” He scowled at Warren. “Lane Five. Get going, old man.”
Sighing, Warren clocked out at 9:45. His back ached and he was cold. He was too old to be a grocery store bagger, also assigned to the famous “other duties as required.” He had mopped the produce section, cleaned the toilets, and restocked the dairy case. He could no longer make a fist, and he struggled with his jacket as he walked to the loading dock.
He looked over his shoulder to see Dave lifting one edge of the blinds covering the window of his small office, staring out at Warren as he passed. Janelle’s head was a dark shadow behind the glass. He lifted his hand like a claw and waved but Dave turned away. The blinds dropped with what was probably a muffled clatter, even though Warren couldn’t hear it through the glass.