Elder Abuse within the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

root - Posted on 03 September 2009

3 Minutes (...and Counting)

by C. Ali

I was working my security guard job at the supermarket when the voice over the intercom said, “Security, register 3!” I moved slowly. I had been called to the same register earlier in the day when a young man had said some not-so nice things to a lady in line. I approached the young man. He was short, not too big but looked like he’d fight anyone. “You need to leave,” I said. As we headed to the exit doors he pleaded his case--“I didn’t do nothing, man” and “I’m gonna sue you Motherf**kers.” “I hope you do,” I answered, “And I hope you get all the money you can get”. I imagined him suing and winning and treating me to dinner at the House of Prime Rib, dining with big smiles on our faces, washing it all down with ample amounts of foreign (and/or domestic) beer. We parted shaking hands-—but not before he left a six pack of Pacifico Beer behind him.

I got to register #3 expecting someone combative; or perhaps someone the manager or clerks suspected was concealing merchandise down their crotch or some other. I asked the checker what the problem was. She pointed to an African-Descended elder in the line.

“Yes dear?” I said, approaching. “How may I help you?”

“My ride is outside, can you tell her I’m in line? I’ll be out in 5 minutes.”

“No problem ma'am,” I said. “What is your name?”

“My name is Ms. Taylor. My ride is one of those mobile transport vans.”

A metal cane hung from the crook of her arm. Her eyes were two blossoms whose brilliance was hindered by thick glasses. I headed for the exit door.

Before I reached the door a voice called out “Hey!” I turned around. It was Edgardo the Assistant Manager—all 24 years and 125 pounds of him contained in a short-sleeve shirt. He marched towards me with the gait of a commissioned officer, nametag affixed to his chest like an official stick of gum. Like a scholar, I saw his evolutionary chart with every step he took: 1st step: 40 pounds heavier; 2nd step: double chin; 3rd step: hunched back; 4th step: hacking cough,
and so on.

“Hello senor,” I said.

“Where are you going?”

“I need to tell the customer’s ride to wait.”

The little man looked at me, disappointed he hadn’t found anything wrong.

“Just let us know whenever you leave your post for any reason.”

"Whatever you say senor".

I proceeded out the exit door.

I approached a white van with a red stripe painted across. I walked to the driver’s side window. A young woman sat talking on a cell phone. I gestured for her to roll the window down.

“Are you waiting for Ms. Taylor?”


“She told me to let you know that she’ll be right out. She’s in line and—“

The young woman sighed.

“She knows I'm supposed to leave in 5 minutes. She always do this. You tell her I’m giving her 3 minutes…if she ain’t out in 3 minutes I’m taking off.”

And with that information I galloped back to the store.

The checker was ringing up Ms. Taylor’s merchandise.

“Ms. Taylor, the driver says you got 3 minutes…then she’s leaving”.

Ms. Taylor hurriedly reached into her purse and pulled out a smaller coin purse. She opened it but spilled her coins on the floor in the process of rushing. I scooped up the quarters and dimes and began bagging the groceries. I bagged as fast as I could—-fruits, veggies, meat, cooking oil, cookies, ramen noodle soup. I put too many cans in one bag causing the handles to tear. Ms. Taylor was busy counting her money. The cashier rang the grand total and gave the change. 3 minutes have surely passed, I thought.

“Where’s my cane?” Ms. Taylor asked, craning her neck up and down.

“It’s right here,” I said, pointing to the cane hanging on the crook of her arm.

We pushed the freshly packed groceries towards the exit.

“I hope your ride is still there,” I said.

“I hope so,” said Ms. Taylor

Outside the van was waiting amidst a mosaic of shopping carts, baby strollers and people. The young woman was on the cell phone. I guided Ms. Taylor up the steps. The young woman continued to talk.

“Yeah girl, this woman is taking too long…fuck!”

Ms. Taylor sat down in silence, her eyes looking straight ahead. The young woman started the ignition. I loaded 7 bags of groceries onto the van as if someone were pointing a rifle at me.

“You know,” said the young woman, “You only supposed to have 3 bags of groceries. You lucky I’m letting you bring more in the van.”

“I was the one who bagged them,” I cut in, “I didn’t know about the limit. I guess I owe you one.” The young woman didn’t reply.

I got all the bags into the van. Ms. Taylor was strapped into her seat. She reached into her purse and pulled out 2 dollars.

“I owe you this.”

“No…the only thing you owe me is a smile.”

Ms. Taylor smiled. I stepped off the vehicle. The door closed and the van drove off. I headed back to my post. I hope Ms. Taylor got home okay.


Sign-up for POOR email!