Charity Case

A Grocery Store Rant

Charity Case - Ran Kime
Charity Case

I care. I give back generously, but only on my terms, when the muse hits.

Needed beer, toilet paper, and laundry detergent—just enough to fit in my bike side bags.

Walked into the little superette a mile from my place. Veterans blocked the entrance, shaking a bucket with “DONATE HERE” scrawled all over. Yeah, I get it. “Thanks for your service, guys.” They had no teeth, looking like they were working off a three-day hangover or cirrhosis.

The doors whooshed open, and the cool air slapped me in the face. Baking bread and burning dust filled my nose. Girl Scouts clogged the foyer, peddling their corporate diabetes cookies. “Sir, would you like to—”

“Sure, let me get through this first, and I’ll get you on the way out.” They giggled and shrugged. I grabbed what I needed and headed to the checkout. “Hello sir, would you like to donate to the Cancer Society of America?”

“For Christ’s sake,” I muttered. Looked at his name tag. “Jon, just let me finish this purchase first. Can you scan one fucking item before hitting me up for more money? I’ve already had two factions come at me. Do I have a sign on me that says ‘Sucker, ATM, get money here?’”

Jon stepped back, wide-eyed. “Geez, sir, all you had to say was no.”

“Jon, what does buying groceries have to do with giving away my life savings? I already gave five to the vets, twenty earmarked for those shitty cookies, and now you want more?” I thumbed through my wallet. “Another ten?”

“Anything you can spare,” Jon said.

I threw a ten on the conveyor, which promptly ate it. I started scanning my own groceries. Boop. Boop. Boop.

“Sir, that’s not appropriate.”

“Jon, I’ve been in this store five minutes and I’m out thirty-five bucks without buying a damn thing.” Jon, with his plastic smile, leaned into his microphone and called, “Mr. Monger, register four for a disgruntled customer.”

Heads turned, eyes locked on me. I smiled and kept scanning. Boop. Boop. Boop.

Mr. Monger approached, his customer service smile dropping as he saw me. He knew to tread carefully.

“Sir, is everything OK?” Jon interrupted, “Mr. Monger, he—”

Mr. Monger raised his hand, silencing Jon.

“Mr. Monger, I appreciate this store. I’ve been coming here for twenty years, and every time I’m drained because of all the hawking and peddling. How much does Sullies Superette match these donations?” He blinked, unprepared. Before he could answer, I hit him with another: “How much of this donation money goes to the actual community?” Still pondering, I dropped a third: “How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” I winked, threw a fifty on the non-conveyor belt, bagged my stuff, and walked out.

Tossed a twenty at the Girl Scouts. No cookies needed. Packed my bike like a Tetris game and sped out. Two young women waved “Free Car Wash, Working for TIP$”. I gunned it past them, leaving their ears ringing. Their signs danced to the curb as they held their ears.