Thursday, May 22, 2008


This woman approaches me today at the bookstore. Older woman, a little haggard, carrying a couple of bags. She looks distraught.

"May I help you?" I ask.

"Do you have any Kellogg's cereal?" She asks.

I look around. I'm still waiting for the Candid Camera people to jump out of the sidelines of my life and make some sense of my bizarre existence. No such luck.

" ma'am, we sell books here. This is a bookstore." I respond.

"Yes, I know, but I thought maybe you would sell cereal."

"No, we don't sell cereal. I'm sorry. There is a grocery store downstairs though."

She huffs a bit, "I was already there. They're out of Kellogg's."

I then suggest some other area stores where she might be able to find the cereal she's looking for.

"You're sure you don't sell any cereal?" She asks one more time just to be sure.

At that point, I realize how much of her day probably revolves around said cereal and wish I could just magically produce some. Perhaps this one change to her routine will cause her great mental angst. Her furrowed brow was already showing signs of future distress. She seemed lucid enough, just genuinely in need of some Kellogg's.

And I wonder about the small things in our life that we use to get through our day. What would happen to you if you showed up at your local Starbuck's on the way to work only to find them out of coffee? And what if you didn't have time to go anywhere else to get coffee that morning? How would your day unfold if you didn't get what you wanted to get?

I'm sure this woman's need for Kellogg's seems silly, but to her it was a very real, very dire situation. Perhaps she is mentally ill. Perhaps she is lonely. Perhaps she is just wanting to keep her sanity through the daily rituals she has put in place. Not so different than many of us I would presume.

tall penguin


mike g said...

That woman went from seeming a little off to seeming completely normal when I substituted kellogg's for coffee!

tall penguin said...

Ya, it's amazing how we can shift our perspective when it becomes personal. :)

Ged said...

Sometimes only one thing can scratch that itch. Hers at least is a fairly harmless obsession.

Some might say spending hours per evening on atheist websites is abnormal...

tall penguin said...

lol Ged. Indeed.