MY SISTER BAGS GROCERIES
My sister bags groceries part-time. Produce with produce, bathroom things with bathroom things. She encourages customers to go with paper bags instead of plastic ones. My sister is environmentally conscious and also nostalgic: “Doesnít it make you feel like an old-timey big-city career girl, carrying parcels up your stoop, struggling to unlock your door, when a handsome stranger in a suit comes up outta nowhere and offers to lend a hand, and there are neighbor-dogs yipping in the background, and itís raining, and you drop a bag and tomatoes spill into the street—”.
My sister spins stories and is stubborn. At home, she drops herself cross-armed on couches; at work, she argues with her grocery boss over personal days: “Iím in high school, what do you want from me? I have a test in two days on the Cold War.”
My sister, though temperamental, will never get fired because she is the greatest grocery girl in the store. I know; Iíve seen her in action. I was curious about her work, and asked if I could visit. “No way,” she said with a sneer. “Youíd distract me, Iíd get in trouble, my boss would think Iím sweethearting. Thereís this whole work culture.”
But because sheís my sister and I donít have to listen to her, I pushed my cart through her checkout line anyway, pretending not to know her while she pretended not to know me. “Do you need some help outside,” she asked, and I said, “No, Iím all right,” and her face fell but I slipped a dollar into her apron for her hypothetical help. I could hear the reply wrenching from her little bow lips, “Um, weíre not allowed tips...”. She is the most honest grocery girl in the grocery—but I walked away, and, as I did, tugged her ponytail so quickly it couldíve been an accident.
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