Sunday, July 12, 2020

Running Away From Change [42]

The man was red-faced and out of breath as he slammed up against a chain link fence. He mustered enough breath to curse the universe as he gripped the fence as if his legs would fail him at any second. His flight had only been a few blocks, but the man was heavyset and had never tried to remedy his condition. His physical deficiencies mirrored themselves mentally; a mind so "made up" it was a bed with sheets made of steel. Behind his back, his coworkers called him "Ed" because he was "past tense". Any change in his routine, however small, threatened to destroy him - to split him a hundred ways and down a hundred alleys. Especially when it came to money.

Shopping trips were an exercise in contemplation and consternation for the man. He ordered most things online, of course, and had them delivered - not at a door, but at a special window he had installed in his house. Unfortunately, an emergency or other circumstance might occur where he'd have to leave his enclosure, blink at the sun, and trek to whatever store, tradesman, or service center might have the items or tools to deal with his issue. This had been one of those days.

The man had psyched himself up to brave the blacktop and walk the eight blocks between him and his objective. He had his credit card and a crisp $50 bill he'd received a decade ago from his mother. He'd researched the items and prices and felt set to meet the challenge.

Already on a knife's edge, he'd made it to the store for his supplies and noticed, to his horror, that the credit card machine was down. Switching to plan B, he assembled exactly $50 worth of items. Upon checking out, however, the clerk placed $1.35 back into a hand that was expecting only a receipt.

"Oh, there's a sale on the chicken."

The man started running.

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