5:55 p.m. Supermarket checker Lari talks addiction recovery with a customer. A story bite of mine.
And I visit the songwriting doc It All Begins with a Song. It’s all about the thriving artist colony that is the Nashville songwriting community.
What I’m Writing This Week
I’m sharing another story bite, this one inspired by a real supermarket checker I knew. I hope you enjoy it.
Five Fifty Five
Lari’s phone alarm chirped as she scanned the last of twelve cans of cat food for her supermarket customer. She dug the phone out of her jeans pocket, smiled at the display, turned off the alarm. She stuffed the phone back in her pocket.
Her customer glanced at her own watch. “5:55. Is your shift ending?”
“I don’t get off till eight tonight.”
“Oh?” Her customer gave Lari a puzzled look.
Lari leaned around the register to see that there were no other customers in line.
“Five fifty five,” she said. “I had my last drink at 5:55 in the afternoon, I’m six years thirty two days sober today.”
“Good for you,” the customer said, as she slipped her credit card into the card reader. “You must be proud.”
Lari reached into another pocket, placed a large token on the counter next to the card reader.
“I got this at my fifth year sober. Pick it up.”
The customer handled the token. “It’s heavy.”
“Your family must be happy with your sobriety.”
Lari checked again that there was no one else in line.
She shrugged. “No one left. I do this for me.”
“I admire your courage.”
Lari looked the customer in the eye. “Husband left me years ago. My daughter is dead. OD’d last year.”
“She’d be twenty eight tomorrow, if she had made it. Booze got her.”
“I’m so sorry.” Her customer took the receipt Liza handed her, folded it into her purse.
Lari put the token back in her pocket. Filled a paper bag with the customer’s grocery items.
I play her guitar.
“How do you cope?” the customer asked.
“I play her guitar.”
The customer picked up her bag. “Her guitar?”
“I play it every night. Her favorite songs. I don’t play well, but…”
A new customer began tossing her groceries on the belt. The exiting customer said, “You take care.” She walked away.
Lari scanned the first item sliding off the belt, a bottle of vodka. She quickly pulled out her phone, reset the alarm for 5:55 p.m. tomorrow.