Grocery Store Tales III

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Measurements matter at the grocery store. Ray and I can each buy a sixteen-ounce bottle of kombucha and finish it before we get home from the store. With some onion, green pepper, two or three pints of marinara sauce, and some pasta, we can stretch sixteen ounces of ground beef into a meal for eight or ten people. Though a sixteen-ounce container of spinach is cheaper per ounce than an eight-ounce container, it might wilt before Ray and I can eat it all.

Pints and ounces are one way things are measured at the grocery store, but I’ve experienced another kind of measuring there. Sometimes it is I who has been measured, or perhaps I should say, it is I who has been sized-up.

In one town where our family lived (I’ll call it Smallville), I always felt like an outsider. It seemed that if you weren’t born in that county (I’ll call it Smallville County) . . . well, you just didn’t measure up. A friend, who had lived there for many years, but who had also been born someplace else, said that people who weren’t from Smallville County were from “off.”

My friend Laura and her husband lived in New England for a few years. After making it through a particularly difficult snowstorm, she commented to a native that she guessed now she was a Yankee. He set her straight: “You aren’t a native unless you’re born here.”

In Smallville I usually did my grocery shopping at a big chain supermarket, but sometimes I went to a small store that was a lot like Boyd’s Market (I’ll call it Friendly Town Market). One day, when I was being ecological before ecological was cool and before reusable bags became the fashion, I told the Friendly Town cashier and bagger that I did not want my groceries put into bags. The cashier commented, “You aren’t from here, are you?”

I like to use cleaning products that are healthier than the usual choices. I used to keep Bon Ami on hand as an alternative to more caustic powdered cleaners. The only place I knew that carried it was Friendly Town Market. One day I decided to go there and stock up on Bon Ami. I put several cans in my cart. You can imagine my horror when the cashier got out the list of restricted substances that could be used to make methamphetamines. She wanted to make sure I wasn’t buying more than the law allowed. And, you can imagine my relief when she found that Bon Ami was not on the list!

Sometimes when we measure things or size them up, we can be off by, oh,
an ounce or a pint or a foot or a yard.

But to each one of us grace was given
according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Ephesians 4:7

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