~can of beans~

Fred Meyer.

Attractive discounts for everything one could need.

As I enter through automatic doors,

I am terribly hungry.

As the old saying goes:

Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach”.

Every aisle teasing my appetite

with a vast selection of food and beverage.

I make my way to my

beloved buffalo wings.

Why not get dessert?

I treat myself and grab a carton of

Ben and Jerry’s cake batter ice cream.

Salivating at the snacks I hold

I race through the store

debating if I want anything else.

Taking a shortcut through a few aisles,

I bump into a woman.

My cheeks redden to cherry.

Fighting embarrassment,

I quickly apologize.

I strive to be a polite gentleman.


I am taken aback

by her haggard appearance.

Dark shadows sag

beneath her fatigued eyes.

It seems as if she

did not even notice.

Without looking at me,

she mumbles:

Yeah, whatever”.

Her voice croaks with a harsh rasp.

The hopeless and pained tone

to her words makes me uneasy.

I pause and stare,

her scornful demeanor puzzles me.

She reaches for a can of baked beans.

The tremor in her hands struggles to grasp the can.

Before she realizes

that I was awkwardly watching her,

I scurry out of sight.

The idea of a sweet drink entices my thirst.

I walk to the opposite end of the store

and snag an Odwalla smoothie.

I am now ready to pay and leave.

I realize that the same woman

is in front of me in line.

It is half past ten on a Wednesday night

so the wait is short.

The cashier scans the can of beans

and the women passes over

a crumpled dollar bill.

He lets out an exaggerated sigh, stating:

“Ma’am you are eighty nine cents short.”

The woman’s shaky hand

clenches into a fist,

as the other snatches

the dollar back.

Her shoulders sink

lower than her 

already defeated posture

and she shuffles out of

Fred Meyer.

Sympathy overthrows my mind.

This woman can’t eat dinner tonight?

My stomach wrenches and I am…


I feel responsible and obligated

to help this woman.

Absorbed by the tornado

of emotion storming my mind,

I completely forget I am next in line.

The cashier is now glaring at me

and repeating the price for:

My buffalo wings.

My ice cream.

My fruit smoothie.

How could I eat ice cream tonight

when this woman is starving?

Fuck this

I aggressively blurt.

Fellow employees shame my outburst

with silent scowls.

I leave my items and dart out of

Fred Meyer.

I need to find her, and help.

The dark of this night

and the dim parking lot,

subvert my efforts.

Minutes pass and finally I spot a figure.

Across the street,

disappearing into the distance.

They are hunched over,

pushing some sort of cart.

Plastic bags are tied to the sides

and a blanket drapes over the

figure I strain my eyes to see.

I can’t be perfectly sure.

But somehow…

I know it is her.

And she is gone.

My lips quiver

as I light a cigarette.

I have failed.

You could have eaten,

you would have known

someone cares.


I now despise my privilege.


2 thoughts on “~can of beans~

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