Surgical Knives Free to the First Fifty Shoppers

by April Salzano

SURGICAL KNIVES FREE to the first fifty shoppers,
the voice on the Wal-mart speaker
stammered, feigning enthusiasm
that could not possibly be there on a Wednesday
afternoon. What she meant was surgical steel knives.
And free was a bit of a stretch.
You had to listen
to a sales pitch. I don't know what
that entailed because I took her
at her word, just walked by and grabbed one.
That's when I realized she meant surgical
steel, not surgical knives. Big difference,
I laughed to myself in frozen foods
somewhere between the waffles and perogies.
Though I needed neither, I bought both,
and a half gallon of ice cream
because it was called Under the Stars
and that sounded romantic.
Peanut butter moons nestled in rich chocolate,
drizzled with a thick ribbon of fudge.
If you want to know the truth,
it kind of made me horny. What
can I say, it had been a long week.
It wasn't until post-deli/pre-checkout
that I realized the very air in the store had changed.
Excuse me's and sorry, thanks
had gone by the wayside. I hadn't heard one
since the condiment aisle when I needed
the industrial-sized bottle of ranch from the bottom shelf,
blocked by a jazzy with a fat woman driver, clearly capable
of walking because I saw her run to the head
of the surgical knife presentation like they were giving
away free bacon. I approached the self-checkout, but people
were more irate than usual there. Instead of merely
talking back to the machine, they pummeled it
with produce. The cashiers seemed to have lost
their sarcastic undertones. In the express line,
it was pure anarchy. People stood in protest
behind carts overflowing with more
than 20 items or less, knives pointed in threat
at anyone who dared try to send them away.

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