I have a call into Todd Jones, the President and CEO of Publix Supermarkets, the company I’m employed by part-time here in the wilds of Central Florida; as soon as T.J. returns my call, I’m going to nominate myself for “Employee Of The Month” (and I’m not even sure if Pubics has such a thing, but if they do, I think I ought be in the running for this month’s award); I strongly believe I should be eligible for some kind of corporate recognition for my superior day-to-day performance. 

I mean, I am an exemplary employee…just ask me. (Please insert “winky face” here.) 

Back in April of last year, I decided that I had had enough of sitting around my apartment in my underwear, listening to old Byrds and Allman Brothers CDs on YouTube, watching baseball on TV, belching (farting) periodically, shaving every third day or so, and generally accomplishing little if anything of any import. (I did manage to win the Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes, but I blew all the money on strippers and Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream…it was a Pyrrhic victory at best; once you’ve had that much ice cream and seen that many naked women, it begins to pale. (Well, the ice cream did.)

So I figured, nothing from nothing leaves nothing (and thank you, Billy Preston), and that, considering sanity and good taste, two things I have in small quantity, it was time to go find a part-time job.

I was recently retired at the time, and after 45+ years of getting my brains beat in at various and sundry management jobs over my “career”, including being self-employed for the last 13 years before I hung it up, any part-time work I sought would have to have several “perks” (I hate that word), beyond just a paycheck.

Generally the work would have to be low-stress (i.e. mostly brainless…hey, after “getting my brains beat in”, what’s left after that, the spleen?), honest (relatively), close to home and pay me enough to make it worth my while to come to work. Based on that criteria, I’m surprised I didn’t wind up President. (I heard rumors that the position of Pres was filled last November by an incompetent moron, so I figured that job was no longer available anyway.)

Did you guys know that Zimbabwe has an average annual rainfall of just over 33 inches (that’s roughly 83 centimeters for you metric freaks)…I just thought you might want that info for future reference.

So Pubics was nice enough to offer me a job as a “FSC”, which as I said in a previous post, is a 200 pound title for a 27 pound job. “Bagger” is the proper nomenclature.

I don’t love my job…I like it as a means to an end. I’m pretty sure my ex-wife had the same point of view towards our relationship; I just never knew what the “end” was supposed to be.

In a rare moment of brevity, a concept that I’m not likely to ever be accused of embracing, I’ll skip all the other heart-warming stories of my various encounters with our customers, and move on to the topic of today’s post, another heart-warming story. (You figured there was going to be one SOMEWHERE in here, right?)

I was walking back into the store one day last week, after 10 minutes of chasing grocery carts out on the sweltering asphalt, and as I came into the cash register area (“the front end”), I was presented with this tableaux…a nice young lady, a recurring customer whose name I do not know, but whose face was familiar to me from coming in the store, a conveyor belt full of groceries, a shopping cart sitting at the end of the queue, empty other than for the baby seat strapped across the front half, said seat being full of small baby at the time, Gertrude, one of our tireless cashiers and Amos, one of my fellow FSCs, checking and bagging respectively; since it was still rather early in the day, this was the only register running, and the only customer being checked out.

The young lady was in the midst of attempting something that all mothers do, every day…handling two tasks at once. Sometimes it’s for convenience, and sometimes it’s for sanity.

As I approached, I could immediately see the looming problem…the customer, at once, had her wallet in her left hand to pay the bill and was holding the baby’s bottle in her right for the little guy, while he happily sucked away. As far as I could see, no matter which task she decided to undertake, at the moment, she was a least one hand too short to achieve any degree of success in either endeavor.

So I walked over, said to the lady, here, please let me help you, and put my hand under the bottle so I could support it while Junior continued to feed. Mom, after a brief look of mistrust, recognized me and gave me a smile of relief. She was very happy for the assistance. 

Baby, on the other hand, had stopped sucking and was still making his own evaluations of this new development; he didn’t seem completely comfortable with the substitution. From his seat, all he could see was this big, ugly stranger, holding the non-business end of his bottle, staring back at him. After Mom took her hand off, he scrutinized me for a moment, and after I assured him that I was nothing more than a temporary replacement for the Mom Unit, he apparently came to the conclusion that I was harmless (I swear, a look passed over his little face, which contained two big amazingly blue eyes, as if he thought, oh well, the formula is still coming, who cares who’s holding the bottle) and got back to his breakfast.

As the others around us concluded their business, Baby and I discussed the baseball playoffs, the chances of the Dodgers reaching the World Series, and whether or not banana oatmeal cereal is better-tasting than strained jalapenos.

So Gertrude got Baby’s Mom checked out, Amos got her things bagged up, the nice lady paid the bill, Baby got fed and the world continued on its path, moving around the sun with what sometimes seems like reckless abandon.

(Okay, now here comes the part where we fast-forward a bunch of years, and the baby is now an adult and comes upon a car-wreck late at night and I’m in one of the cars and he recognizes me (sure, he was an 4-month old baby, he’ll remember the incident) and is so moved to see me again that he risks life and limb to save me from the burning auto.)

I think we need to call the author in and have him rewrite that paragraph.

There are no morals to this tale of which I’m aware, no compelling under-story of greed and betrayal, just a fleeting “nice moment” in a day filled with all of life’s usual bullshit.

Oh, Baby thought the Indians were going all the way this year…little did he know.

Love and pacifiers,

Cap’n John

!!!!GO DODGERS!!!!



  1. Sidebar: I like the insert about drugs and the metric system. It’s something I’ve thought about. Amazing that they can even flip flop measurements if you know what I mean.

    It’s probably a good thing…or maybe not…that she wasn’t nursing.

    • I’m laughing so hard I can hardly type…best laugh I’ve had in a couple of days. Thanks, Ms. Molly, for the cheer and the support and the kind words and the sign up…you’re the best.
      Welcome aboard the Kidding, matey.

Leave a Reply