I ran up to our local discount store to grab paper towels and toilet bowl cleaner for my son’s business. Being a week before Christmas, the parking lots were crowded and the aisles packed with shoppers.
I’m pretty good at buying paper towels and toilet bowl cleaner, so I was back to the front of the store in no time. I jumped into the express lane, four carts back from the cashier. Things were moving a little slow, but most of the folks in front of me were challenging the 20-item limit.
To keep from crowding the aisle behind us, a middle-aged couple fell in beside me.
“You know why the lines are so long, don’t you?” the man asked.
“Lots of people here tonight” I opined brightly.
“No, that’s not it,” he insisted. “It’s because of who they hire here — they’re not from around here.”
“Excuse me?” I sputtered.
“They’re not from around here. They’re from across the border — or at least their parents were.” He looked at his wife and asked, “If they weren’t married, are they still parents?” Then back to me, “Everyone knows they can’t work like we do — they’re slow.”
Figuring out that I was talking to a home-grown, West Texas bigot, I decided to go along. “So these people we’re talking about — Canadians, huh?”
“Why, no. Why would you say Canadians?”
“You said they were from across the border — you didn’t say which one.”
“This guy’s crazy,” my slanted friend said to his wife as he pulled her toward another cashier.
By that time, I was next in line. My cashier, a friendly woman, efficiently rang up my items and took my payment.
“Feliz Navidad,” she chimed. Then, she smiled and winked at me, “Do you really think I look Canadian?”
“To tell you the truth, I don’t really know,” I admitted. “I know a lot of really nice and extremely talented Canadians and they just look like people. Like you.”
“In that case, I think you look Canadian, too.”
“Thanks,” I said as I rolled my cart toward the parking lot.