Late in day 6 of Bacon Stupidity I stopped to stock up, approached the check out and dropped eight pounds of various brands of bacon on the conveyor. The clerk, an attractive middle aged woman, smiled wryly and asked, “Cooking breakfast for everyone, no?” with an accent I guessed to be Eastern European. For reasons that should be obvious I didn’t feel like explaining that I was on a quest to eat nothing but bacon for the month of February and instead said, quite truthfully, “It’s kind of a taste test.”
“You are taking a test?” she said, clearly puzzled. The first wave of bacon shame hit me as I replied, “No, we’re going to see which of these tastes best.” She gave a little shake of her head and smiled again. “Oh, this package does not look so good,” she said of the eighth pound, pointing out to me how the wrapping appeared to have been breached.
She called out to a clerk, an elderly, silver haired gentlemen with a quiet, dignified mien. When he spoke it was clear that he, too, was not native born. A second wave of bacon shame hit me as this fellow shuffled off to get me a replacement for my flawed bacon so that, you know, I could continue to eat nothing but bacon for the month and report about it on the internet.
As I moved toward the door to wait, a teenaged clerk said robotically, “Have a nice night.”
“I’m actually waiting for the guy to bring me a replacement for my bacon,” I said, somewhat apologetically.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“My bacon had a hole in it. The guy just went to get me another.” He nodded. Thirty, forty-five seconds pass. The woman checks out a well dressed couple buying dessert and coffee. They look wonderful. Clearly they are in love. I still have no bacon. The check out lady says loudly, “Where is he with the bacon!?” She stands on tip toes to see over the magazine racks. Another thirty seconds passes. “Here he comes,” says the teen.
The silver-haired gentleman approaches me almost obsequiously and says, “Sir, I am so sorry. You must have taken the last one. I looked everywhere. I could not find it.” He held up two pounds of bacon, one in each hand. “This,” he said, referring to the bad package, “is thick slice, and this is thin. But they are the same brand. I looked everywhere.”
“It’s fine,” I say, now overwhelmed with bacon shame. “Thanks so much for looking.”
“I’m so sorry.” The check out lady walks out from behind her station, “Let’s see if that’s the same price,” she says, showing a little irritation. I follow her back and she scans it several times without result, flattens the package, tries again and gets it to scan. “Ah, yes, same price. Have a nice night, sir.” Sir, she called me.
The elderly man does not look up as he repeats, “I’m sorry, sir.”
I reassure him again and hurry out of the store.
These two, they endured unknown hardships, perhaps war and tragedy, yet through grit and determination made their way to this country where they were lucky to find themselves employment, working nights at a grocery store, probably sending money back to their families in their home countries, those who are still alive. They hope someday to bring other family members over — their hearts ache every minute they are separated — but it is so difficult, so expensive. Just living day to day, in Southern California, what with the high rents, the taxes, rising food costs, it is a struggle. But they are blessed and grateful for it.
Me, I am eating bacon for the month of February and writing about it for my blog.