A wry smile sneaks onto my somber face
when I identify the cashier at the end of this long, long line.
Her nametag reads BRENDA
and she’s started wearing barrettes in her hair.
It does not fail—
if I am tired
if nothing has gone right all day long,
if my sanity clings to the edge with two flimsy fingernails,
will be my cashier,
like this is just another question on life’s big test,
the one I can’t quite seem to pass.
BRENDA gets overwhelmed easily
and she’s not the brightest crayon in the box.
She usually has to call for help
and I watch my express line halt
while lines of overflowing carts race past.
I could switch lines,
but you know how that goes—
the cashier in the new line would run out of dollar bills
and need to do a price check
or call a manager for approval…
So I stay put,
trying hard to be grateful
for this lesson in patience,
for the opportunity to steal a few deep breaths,