It was a perfect day for the sausage thief to strike. A dreary-cold Monday after the holiday, presented a golden opportunity for larceny.
The marketplace was under-crowded, everyone strolled through quickly and efficiently, masked and meaning business. The sausage thief spent a little too much time at the meat counter, commented a little too loudly at a fellow shopper’s wonderful gloves/mask/shield kit and rushed a little too quickly into the checkout line; maybe, possibly, probably cutting off a woman just two steps too slow to take advantage of the opening.
Sausage thieving wasn’t his normal M.O. Stealing anything was anathema to the middle-aged man, raised on honesty and paying one’s own way. But today was the day, the snowy/rainy pandemic Monday.
In the aisle, in the checkout line, he bided his time as the old woman ahead of him purchased a single advent calendar with a $20 dollar bill. Her grandchildren would be excited to crack open the doors and find chocolate & trinkets.
His turn. Goggles fogged, N95 mask muffling his voice, slippery gloves grasping at goods. The conveyor belt sends his purchases up to the clerk.
Waiting … waiting … small talk and a fun back-n-forth about his shopper’s loyalty card not really helping this time. Hold on … hold on…
“Can we help you with anything else in your cart?” the bagger asks.
“No,” replies the sausage thief, conveying confidence through mask and goggles.
At that moment, the world stops. The sound system blinks off. The cars out on the busy thoroughfare instantly halt and everyone turns to look at his basket. There, plainer than a pig’s snout, sits a freshly flopped flat of uncooked breakfast sausage patties that just moments ago, the thief had vocally asked for, then was led to their location over in Dairy.
“Wait, how …” stammers the sausage thief?
Laughter erupts as the bagger and cashier explain the sausages were sitting upright in his cart, pressed against the side he couldn’t see, until falling face up just as he looked.
The Christmas Carols start up again; the cars go back to going home; the shoppers continue rushing through and the woman he cut off moments ago, strolls past him toward the door.
Then I — I mean, the sausage thief, joins in the laughter. He covers his mask with gloves trying to prevent any expelled humor in public during a pandemic. But the three of them can’t stop. It’s suddenly the silliest thing on the planet. Supremely embarrassed by his mistake, he pays for the entire cart, sausages and all. They virtually high-five and he is escorted out into the parking lot by only his hurt pride.