The Deli

“I don’t think that person knows how sandwiches work.”  Milton Salisbury cleared his throat while waiting in long line at the deli department.  He looked up at the menu board, examining the prices of the various sandwiches.  “Three ninety-five for a tuna sandwich?  What’s in it, gold?  Gees.  I remember getting them for fifty cents when I was a kid,” he groaned to a woman next to him.

“It’s how life is.  Prices go up.  Technology changes.  Children get wilder with each new generation,” she sighed, taking in a deep breath, arching her brow at him.

Milton approached the counter, dumped his coins from his change purse onto it, and began counting.  “Twenty-five, fifty, eighty-five cents, and a few more coins makes two dollars,” he sighed, glaring at the clerk, “I only have two dollars.  What can I get for such amount of money here?”

The clerk looked down at the coins, and glared at him, “I’m sorry sir, but we don’t sell anything but coffee such a price.  You can get one cup of coffee a buck twenty-three plus tax.”

Grabbing up his change, Milton rummaged through his pant pockets for his checking book.  “You got a pen?”

“Sir, we don’t accept checks.  But we do take debit,” the clerk smiled a tight smile on his face, watching Milton’s eye twitch.

“How bout a regular credit card?”  Milton glared at the clerk, and cleared his throat at he tossed his Visa card onto the counter.

Snatching it up, the clerk examined it.  “Sure.  I see it expires next month.  But, it’s alright for today.”

“I’ll take a tuna fish sandwich, and a large cup of coffee with cream and sugar, please.”

The clerk presented the items to him upon running his card through the machine.  “This card is declined.  But if you have…”

“What?  Are you kidding me?  How?”  Milton crinkled his face while tossing another card onto the counter.  “Try this one.  It should be alright.  I just paid the bill online this morning.”

Again, the machine beeped.  “Sir, this one’s no good either.”

“But I just paid the bill.  I don’t understand how I could be declined?”  He grunted while snatching up his cards, and rummaging through his wallet for another card.  “This one should be okay.  I just got it in the mail yesterday.”

The clerk ran it through.  Again it beeped.

“Now wait a minute.  That’s a new card.  I have no charges on it yet,” Milton yelled.

“Hold on, sir.  Let me try something.”  The clerk wrapped a plastic bag around the card, and ran it through the machine.  “Huh.  It was accepted.  Must have been a technical glitch earlier.”

“Just hand me my card, please, along with my receipt,” Milton said in a gruff voice while snatching the card out of the clerks hand.

“Please sign here.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Honestly,” Milton coughed while turning to the woman behind him, “First, the outrageous prices.  Now, the trouble here with my cards.”

The woman smiled, “It’s just one of those days.  But, life has a funny way of turning matters up with intensity.”

“Sure,” Milton sighed while signing his name on the slip, presenting it back to the clerk.

“Have a good day, sir.”

Milton took a couple of deep breaths, and sat at a table next to the window.  He gazed out into the openness of the country side, while taking a bite of his sandwich.  Tasting the savory flavors, he nodded his head at his car.  “Well, old buddy.  You’ve got me through some rough times when I was a kid back in high school.  We suffered broken hearts, you got me to me to homecoming when I scored my first touchdown.   And we always came here right after,” he laughed, looking around the deli.

© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2016

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