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The Checkout

“Next!”

Miles pushed his cart forward and preceded to empty it onto the rotating conveyor belt. There were not many items, just a pack of diapers, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and an assortment of microwavable food.

“Were you able to find everything you were looking for,” the Clerk asked apathetically as he began to scan the first item, letting out a beep. He was about eighteen, with brown hair that had a slight red tint to it. His eyes were either dark green or brown depending on how the light reflected on them, and his overall appearance gave off the feeling that he had other places he wanted to be.

Miles ran his hand through his thick, greasy dark hair as the Clerk rang up the items. He watched the Clerk take each item, one by one, and passed them across the scanner, followed by the repetitive beep. His eyes fixed uncomfortably on the little screen which showed the prices of each of the items as they passed the scanner. Miles began to sway nervously, as the scanner emitted another beep. He frantically looked from the screen, to the remaining contents that have not been scanned yet. Every few seconds, while pacing his gaze back and forth between the items and the screen, he would look at his watch, which had a crack down the middle and plastic straps which stuck out from his thin wrist.

He then noticed the family at the next register. There was a man and a woman, both seemed to be in their late twenties or early thirties, and two children, a boy and a girl. The boy seemed three and the girl was around five or six. All of them looked very
neat and tidy, and their cloths gave the appearance of upper middle class. Though what caught Miles attention, initially, was their conversation, which was loud enough to be
heard over the monotonous beeping of the scanners. The girl was complaining because she wanted a candy bar. The mother continued to refuse spouting the usual “it’s unhealthy for you,” “it will spoil your appetite,” and “we don’t have the money for that.”

“That will be forty-one dollars and twenty-three cents.”

Miles snapped back into his own situation. He took out his worn, leather wallet, found a ten, a five, and several ones, but not enough to match the total on the screen. He flipped through his wallet again, gave up, and searched his pockets. The Clerk sighed, rolled his eyes and looked away, while drumming his fingers on the counter as Miles flipped through his wallet again. As if the money he was missing would suddenly appear there. As he awkwardly searched for his non-existent money, he looked around and noticed that the once small line behind him had grown full of people, impatiently waiting for Miles to pay and leave, so that they may be able to check out themselves.

The lady behind Miles stepped forward, partly out of pity for him and partly because she had things she needed to do, and handed the Clerk the remainder of the money that he owed. She was a little over weight, appeared to be in her late thirties, and her face was full of sympathy, yet also with a slight annoyance for Miles. The Clerk handed Miles the bags, so few that he was able to carry them all in his hands, and began getting ready for the next line of groceries that was being placed on the conveyor belt, starting up another round of continuous beeping.

Miles, embarrassed about the whole incident, turned to the lady, who was busy
putting the rest of her own items on the conveyor belt and was paying no mind to him. He said “thank you,” and then he quickly left the store humiliated.

He got to his car, which was parked near the back of the parking lot. The car was, at one point, dark blue but now needed a paint job, as most of it was flaking off. The body had more than a few dents in it and, at a glance, looked like it would not be able to start. But it worked and that is all that mattered to Miles. He took out his keys, unlocked the door, and sat down, placing his items in the passenger seat. He then put the keys into the ignition, and jerked them to the right, however, the car did not start. He tried again, but was only effective in cranking the engine. Mile turned his attention to the fuel gauge, which pointed to the “E.”





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