Shiny Things

I was working in the canned goods section of my uncles’ grocery store on a warm Friday afternoon in June, putting up a flat of canned green beans, when the bell above the entry door rang, signaling the arrival of a customer. Early afternoons were usually slow, as on this day when the narrow aisles were empty of shoppers, making it a good time to restock the shelves. During this quiet period, my two uncles were in the back room carving a side of beef that had arrived after lunch. Their wives were coordinating the charge accounts, verbally exchanging the amounts from the hand-written files next to the two cash registers, to come up with a grand total that the customers usually paid every other Saturday, the day after the steel mills in our small city paid their workers. When the entry bell rang, my aunts went silent and then greeted the lone customer, Mrs. Kuharish.

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