by Dave Markwell

While walking around the supermarket the other day, I saw an older, kind of chubby guy wearing a pair of blue and white striped coveralls. They weren’t the working type of coveralls. They were all leisure. He reminded me of my dad.

As a child of the seventies, I was privileged to witness many dubiously awesome fashion choices in my household, not the least of which was my dad’s pair of blue and white striped coveralls. Watching this brave man in 2015 strolling down the aisles, a memory hit me:

I was 4 or 5 years old, shopping with my dad at the old Tradewell store on Pac Hwy (Dollar Store now) and as we were waiting in a long line, I got bored and was fidgeting, standing behind by pops. As my eyes searched for ways to pass the time, I noticed that my dad had a small hole in the rear end of his cool coveralls. Apparently, my dad went commando. From this hole at eye level, several fine hairs presented themselves. Not being blessed with much foresight at this delicate age, I chose to pull these small hairs. I only remember a smack in the head and didn’t see much of the coveralls after this incident.

I laughed at this memory as I pushed my cart and recognized that my legacy of poor choices began early. Reminiscing about the old Tradewell years, it’s worth noting that this is the same store that I, in another brilliant moment, managed to get my arm trapped behind one of the sliding entry doors. I recall placing one foot on the activation pad and my hand on the edge of the door. Apparently, I stepped too hard on the pad and the door opened, sucking my entire arm between thick panes of glass. Several people were required to extract me from this predicament. Again, I was with my dad and I’m sure he entertained thoughts of getting me tested or just leaving me behind…

So, these fun little stories played in my head as I stood in line waiting to buy my groceries the other day. As usual, I picked the shortest line. The guy in front of me had a few things, but being an experienced line-picker, I predicted a pretty quick run. I was wrong. The guy in front of me was paying with assistance checks. Every three items required a long transaction to process the checks. I stood and shuffled and looked around, much the same way I did moments before plucking my dad’s butt hairs.

This time, though, I had some thoughts. I was not in a hurry and I was lifted by fond memories of my wonder years. So, all I felt was lucky. I was not impatient with the man having to take time to pay for his supplies. Several people behind me moved to other lines. I stayed. I was grateful that I did not have to use assistance checks to purchase my things. As I remembered my life and my dad, I was happy waiting.

When the checker eventually moved on to my items, he apologized for the wait. I shook my head and said I it was no problem. I meant it. I imagined the guy in front of me knowing that he was holding up the line and feeling a “way” about this. I felt for the guy. He was a worker. I could tell by his boots. He was buying diapers and formula and fruit and meat. He was just a guy who needed a little help. All I could offer was patience. On a different day, I may not have had that to give. But on this day, I had it and I knew I had other things, too. I understood these “other things” and I still feel lucky…

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, whose first book is called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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