Thursday, November 9, 2017

Waiting in Line

I was at the far end of the grocery store, following the long frozen-food trough that split the wide aisle into two lanes. It was early, and there weren’t many people shopping at that time of morning. The pace was slow, and still a little sleepy.

A tired looking woman on the other side of the trough squinted to read the small print on a package of seafood as her cart began to slowly roll away from her, toward the front of the store. Seemingly unmanned, it drifted a surprising distance of several feet. But as I came closer, I could see that the cart was actually being pushed by an impatient little boy of no more than 4 or 5, too small to reach the handlebar—or to even be visible from the front of his vessel.

I chuckled at the illusion, and told his mother I’d thought her cart was rolling off on its own. She looked over at her son. “That’s funny,” she said, and resumed her study of the frozen scallops.

Noting the brief exchange, the boy abandoned the cart to dash to his mother’s side. (Small as he was, even short distances meant sprinting.) Standing not much taller than the low freezer in front of him, he gave me a quick, close study—partly assuming the role of tiny protector, but mostly out of an instinct for not wanting to be left out of any possible fun.

“What’s up?” He shouted to me fearlessly across the trough.

“What’s up with you?” I replied.

A bright smile bloomed across his face. Kids—particularly kids with a lot of energy—are accustomed to having such bits of nonsense ignored entirely by grown-ups, so my acknowledgment alone was plenty.

By then his mother had already tossed the scallops in among the rest of her groceries and moved on. He skipped to catch up with her, climbing aboard the side of the shopping cart and riding merrily along as they pushed past the long procession of freezer doors.

I had everything I’d come for, so I made my way to the checkout line. There were only a few people, but the guy ahead of me had a full cart. A moment after I took my place in line, the little boy and his mother passed again, and he ran to me like a long-lost friend.

“Hey,” he said, a great big trickster’s grin on his face. He seemed to think he’d surprised me by turning up a second time. 

“Hey yourself.”

“You wanna play with me?”

“Well, I’m playing ‘Waiting in Line’ right now.”

He jumped to my side and stood straight, feet together, at a kind of attention. “Now I’m playin’ Waitin’ in Line with you.”

Unamused, his stoic mother promptly summoned him back. “Come on, June. We’re not ready to check out yet. We still have to find a few things.”

He looked up at me, maybe hoping I’d try to convince his mother to let him stay put.

“Junie!” She called firmly, raising her voice only slightly. “I said, let’s go.”

Obediently, he ran to her as she pointed their cart back down an aisle.

Ahead of me, the guy had split his groceries into three groups and was digging for a different credit card to use for the second portion of his purchases. There was only one cashier open, and the line behind me had begun to lengthen.

Suddenly, the little boy came rushing back into view, halting at the mouth of the aisle he’d just disappeared down, a few feet from the checkstands. Once he saw he had my attention, he began dancing in place at me, enthusiastically throwing down his own variation on the cabbage patch. He tossed his head back and started happily chant-singing,

“Waitin’ in line...waitin’ in line….”

Until, from a distant aisle, the impatient, disembodied voice of authority rang out:


© 2017 Wyatt Doyle, all rights reserved

Wyatt Doyle's latest book, I Need Real Tuxedo and a Top Hat!, is available now from New Texture. Buy it HERE.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Big Like You

I was in line at the store. Behind me, a little old white lady in a crochet hat reached up and tapped a finger on my back.

“I wish I was big like you,” she whispered when I turned around.

“Why would you wish that?”

“Because then if anyone messed with me, I could just beat them up,” she replied, smiling sweetly.

© 2017 Wyatt Doyle

Wyatt Doyle's latest book, I Need Real Tuxedo and a Top Hat!, is available now from New Texture. Buy it HERE.