you are waiting in line like you always do, at the bank at the DMV at the movies, only this time you’re holding a jug of milk you won’t drink and a bag of apples, nameless and bland and smaller than your fist, so maybe you’re at the grocery store but it’s not really one of those, it’s an ironically titled supermarket whose ‘superiority’ must be evident in the pre-bagged produce. you contemplate a candy bar or a pack of gum but candy is for children and you’d chew the gum just for something to do, something rhythmic and methodical for when you’re waiting in line. the person in front of you, always an old lady how is it always an old lady, is she really paying in change of course she is because this is a commercial, about how life has shortchanges and boring moments so get through them by chewing this self-declaring new-and-improved gum and there is always an old lady to symbolize the frustration and the mediocrity of waiting in line at the less-than-supermarket, but good thing this isn’t really a commercial, it’s just you and this old lady and the cashier who looks tired and bored and you think about offering her a stick of gum, a clever line perhaps, and a smile, only you don’t have any gum and this old lady is never going to be done waxing on the good old days when eggs were three cents and protein was something you found in meat, not powder and if you had the extra bills you’d shove them into her hand and insist she keep her change, she’s obviously never been ready for change. but then she’s done, her eggs are bagged and she’s gone and you bus your milk and apples down the stretch of dirty rubber and this tired and bored cashier smiles, sort of, but doesn’t ask how you are, doesn’t ask if you’ve found everything okay, like maybe she’s pleasant but done with pleasantries. her name tag is obscured with stickers but using her name learned from a name tag seems condescending, anyway. she turns her head to ask if that’s all, is there anything else you want, and you catch the smell of peaches and cigarette smoke and it’s not entirely bad, her smock is the same color as her eyes would be in sunlight and it’s been far too long a pause since she asked if that’s all, is there anything else you want, so you grab a pack of gum and toss it down to make it look like that’s what you were thinking about instead of her eyes. you watch her fingers pass it over the scanner and her tone is a little more insistent like what she’s saying is a repeat, sir, excuse me, sir, and your head snaps up and the price she and the screen are naming is more than you have. you shove your hands into your jacket pockets, your pants pockets, and as you hear the person behind you heave a sigh you realize you have become the old lady with her loose change and you are tempted to offer this new person a piece of gum just to feel clever, but first you have to pay for it. your pockets turn up only a quarter and a ticket stub and the cashier with her tired and bored eyes says she’ll foot you the sixty-four cents but her tired and bored eyes say just go, please, enough, so you thank her and take your purchases and almost purchase and leave. passing through the shuddering automatic doors you realize you aren’t even the old lady; she at least had the right amount of change, and the sudden and slight weight of shame is peculiar, off-sets the balance of your milk in one hand and your sad apples in the other. but maybe that’s just the pack of gum in your pocket.