I went to Costco today to pick up some meds for Jody, grab some groceries, and have my traditional hot dog and Diet Coke. Only $1.60! At the snack bar, I’m used to lining up on the left, telling one employee what I want, and then receiving the goods at the right end of the counter. Well, that’s okay, but how about shaking things up a bit? For a second, there was no lineup. I entered on the right and gave my order to the staff person at the till, and then proceeded leftward. I handed my ten dollar bill over a high display case to a woman who was preparing a baked prosciutto sandwich. She vaguely reached out her hand to me before realizing that this was all wrong. I moved to the far left end of the counter, waiting for someone to take my money. Meanwhile, two women wanted to start a line but were blocked by my stationariness. Big smiles from them – they knew what was happening. I scanned the employees’ faces and there was no shortage of smiles there either. Boy, that was fun.
I’d like to say it was the first time I’d done something weird like this, but that would be an untruth. In 1986, I was a waiter at Fiddler’s, a high end restaurant in Lethbridge, Alberta. One Sunday afternoon, at a staff party, we decided to have a slow pitch game in a local park. My turn at bat. Just for fun, I hit the ball to the outfield and ran like hell to third base. Seeing the left fielder still chasing the ball, I turned the corner and sprinted for second. Now the fielder was up and throwing. Faster than a speeding bullet, I motored to first base and slid under the tag of my astonished opponent. I stood up, brushed myself off, and grinned. Some of my teammates were laughing. The more competitive types were glaring. But heck, it’s called a “game”, isn’t it?
Eleven years later, I got a part-time teaching job at an elementary school. As well as my main duties, I had to cover a Grade 1 class for one period a week. Usually I read the kids a story. They’d fan out in front of me on the carpet, and I’d rock contentedly in the teacher’s chair. One day, I picked a book whose story I knew well. I turned the book upside down and started “reading”, flipping the pages with authority. Most kids looked pretty blank. But a young boy named Paul in the front row started pointing at the book. “No, no, Mr. Kerr. The book is upside down!” “That’s okay,” I replied, and kept on with the story. Poor Paul. Some week later, I branched out. I opened the book to the last page, and read sentence by sentence from back to front. Totally incomprehensible, but such a good time. Even Paul, who stood up, pointed and protested, eventually enjoyed the show.
Is there some deep meaning in what I did? Probably not. But why are my memories of these three moments so rich and indelible?