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I Stood in Line With Wings

Story ID:2671
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
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I Stood in Line With Wings

I'd called Ginny before I left work. It was late - almost
7 PM. "Hi, Baby! I'm on my way! See you soon!"

"Michael, I hate to do this to you, but could you stop
by the store on the way home?"

"Sure! No problem." I said.

"I know you had a long day, but I really need you to
go to the store."

I used our only car to commute to work. "Hun, it's OK.
What do you need?"


The shelf at the grocery store was filled with various
brands of the item I searched for. Ginny said it had a picture
of a red flower on it. I saw several with red flowers.

A lady walked up, selected what she wanted and moved on.
I continued to search. I finally gave up and called Ginny, "Hun,
what brand did you say it was?"

"It's the brand with a red flower on it."

"Maxi with wings?"


"Hang on." I replied and searched the shelf. "Hun, I see
one with a red flower, but it's not maxi and it doesn't have wings."
A woman standing nearby smiled and pretended not to hear my
conversation. "Gin, here's one with wings. It's not maxi though?
Is that OK?"

"No! Keep looking please. It has a red flower on the label.
The one I want is 'maxi, long and has wings.'"

I sighed. "Hun, I'm trying." I lowered my voice. A man stopped
to get toothpaste from a shelf behind me. "Hun, I think I found
them. Long, maxi, and with wings - right?"

"That's them!" Ginny replied. "Thanks, Darlin'!"

I closed my phone, slipped it into my pocket and walked to
the self-checkout. Three people were ahead of me, waiting for
their turn at one of the four machines. I held my only purchase
in my hand.

The gentleman ahead of me turned and said, "Hi! Hot day,
isn't it?" He saw what I carried and turned away. Men don't want
to know. I just wanted to get out of there.

A lady, two young children in tow, stepped up behind me and
asked, "Is this the line for all the machines, or is there a line
for each self-checkout?"

I turned to face her, my only item in my hand. "This is the
only line."

She smiled. "Thank you." she replied and turned to her
children. "Jason! Jason, don't hit your brother!" She turned
back to me and smiled. "Kids!"

"I know." I replied. "I know what it's like."

"They can be a pain." She saw what I carried and turned
away. "Jason! What did I tell you?"

Everyone knew why I was there. My wife had no privacy. I
tucked my article under my arm.

The man ahead of me stepped to a machine. A woman at the
machine next to him swiped her bank card, punched in her password
and made her purchase. It was finally my turn.

I pushed the button on the screen, waited until the inhuman
voice said, "Please scan your first item."

I waved the barcode at the scanner. Nothing happened. I
tried again. The scanner failed to pick up the code. Behind me,
the lady with the two kids said, "Jason, get your finger out of
your nose!" She looked at me. I knew the look. She wanted to
scream at me. "Will you please finish! I need to get these kids

The barcode didn't work. The machine couldn't read the code,
probably because the plastic distorted the reading.

"Can I help you?" The young lady working the self-serve
section asked.

"The machine won't read the code." I complained.

"Let me see it!" she said and took the things with wings
from my hand and forced the barcode against the glass screen.
"Beep! Please place your purchase in the bag." the robot voice
said. She did and returned to her station.

"Thank you." I said. My face turned a light shade of red.

"You're welcome."

"Jason! How many times do I have to tell you? Get your
finger out of your nose! And stop hitting your brother!" I
heard as I grabbed my purchase, now hidden inside a bag.


"Thank you, Baby." Ginny said to me, when I handed her
the package. She gave me a hug.

"No problem, Hun!" I hugged her back. "I don't mind at
all. You know I'd do anything for you. I love my girl."

Michael T. Smith