Small Town Math

It’s insane but I must drive 17 miles one way to the grocery store for three items: wine, chocolate, and tampons. I am grumpy about this fact and grumpy about the cute couple ahead of me in line, and grumpy for no good goddamned reason. If you can’t tell why I was grumpy based on the three-item list, well, then—duh.

I am inside the grocery store for all of four minutes because I know exactly what I want, where it is, and who the fastest checkers are. During the course of these four minutes I see six people that I know. I skirt the first one (mother of a kid I used to teach) by fishing through my purse as though I’m looking for my grocery list. Turning down Aisle 4, I catch the profile of a glass blower I know, pivot on my heels, and head for the wine section instead. On my way to the wine, I see a fellow writer and her husband. Her nose is in Good Housekeeping and he’s trying to get her attention, “Honey! Honey? Do you have the Ingles advantage card with you?” I see the last two staring into the Breyer’s case in the frozen section and scoot by, looking up at the FROZEN PIZZAS sign opposite where they stand.

Six people! That’s 1 1/2 as many people as minutes that I spend in the store. That’s twice as many minutes as items on my list. That’s equal to the number of minutes it takes me to run one leg of the Bakersville Creek Walk. That’s one more minute than there are squares of chocolate in the teensy Dove dark bar that I buy, guiltily, thinking all the while of the Pine Tree test.

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