Overheard at the .99 Cent store today-"These beef broth cans are three months out of date."
Everything looks familiar, but is slightly different,
this island of misfit consumer items,
where the fine chocolates are Elmer's brand,
where the over-ripe fruit is bruised,
and where the people are too.
I heard a child singing, "I am stuck on Band-Aids..."
I turned the aisle to see the little girl,
and instead saw an adult woman,
squeezing a bag of bite-sized herring snacks,
and singing to herself, full-voiced, shamelessly.
I was embarrassed, but only for a moment.
It occurred to me that everything here,
at the .99 cent store was simply what it was,
without shame, without pretense, without guile,
both people and products without pretense.
Here is a young girl matching plates
to plastic silverware for her birthday party.
There is a grandma examining nectarines
like a jeweler judging diamonds. And here
a young man buying five razors for a buck.
People here want practicality, not prestige,
They want things that do what they are made to do,
and don't say anything about who you are.
They want to shop without labels,
and sing, full-voiced, while they shop.