Waiting in line at the grocery store, I am once again at the register of that young man not much older than 20. He is easygoing and carefree, reflected in his chubby size and casual smile. I wonder how someone his age can be happy working as a register clerk checking people through with coupons, asking if they want their chicken in plastic, counting the bags they have brought, and then making small talk before reading their gas points to them from the receipt. Maybe it is because I am not a fan of small talk. I can play the game with the best of them and I can cheer anyone up at this game or ignore them if I have to. But he has to do it for a living.
Since he has been working at the store for a couple of years I have been able to draw him out in the small talk game we play as he slides my grapes across the scale. I have learned that he loves fantasy games, Comic Con, science fiction novels and Halloween. He is already way too set in his ways for someone so young. He already knows it all, and is the first to reach any conclusion that satisfies his view of the world.
This week he was talking to a heavy set customer with feathery blonde hair and a smoker's wheeze in her voice as she finished paying for her groceries. They were discussing how expensive food had become, how the minimum wage was too low and other familiar subjects about making ends meet. He handed her the receipt and then turned to me as she left and said he really was not too worried about raising the minimum wage because he already made over ten dollars an hour and he was also due for a promotion and even more money. (Check Out Clerk Level II?)
I felt a small dark cloud move in behind me.
"I hope you are saving something," I said trying to catch his eye as his hands moved my yogurt containers across the scanner.
He looked up with his self-same grin and said that he most certainly was saving. He said that he had $400 already set aside.
"I have been saving for some time. I am waiting for a certain flat screen TV to go on sale and then I want to add an X-box to the system."
I kept my smile as tight as a Marilyn Monroe sweater and tried not to sigh too audibly. That was not the saving I was thinking about. I was thinking about saving for tomorrow, that tomorrow which for his age never comes. I thanked him and collected my groceries, knowing his world view right now was very different from mine and that this generation is never going to get old.