When Mike and I were teenagers, Mike worked as a bag boy at the Albertson’s on 5600 West and 3300 South in West Valley. I worked at the K-Mart next door. Sometimes he would visit me on his lunch hour, but that was before we were in love. We were just friends then. The two of us know what Christmas can do to a store. K-Mart would have every register open and lines snaking back into the aisles every Christmas. Mike only had to deal with typical Super Bowl Sunday type of crowds that consisted of lots of people with only a case of beer and some chips in line.
Wednesday, Christmas Eve, I was waiting in line at the Albertson’s in Sandy. They were snaking back into aisles. This was not your typical Christmas Eve at the local Albertson’s. Something was different. Every single register was open and full of people. They had carts filled with food. I was a typical Super Bowl Sunday shopper, with a tray of deviled eggs and a few other snack items, but I was the exception. I was surprised at the crowds, but I had dealt with crazy crowds at stores throughout my teen years, so I calmly got in line and asked Mike to go to the store next door to get the wrapping paper that Albertson’s had run out of long ago.
He was behind me in line: a friendly guy, the type that talks to people when there is a long wait ahead. I heard him talking about sports to the man behind him. I had pulled out my Palm and was playing a game. My turn came to unload my deviled eggs and cookies onto the belt. I finished quickly and motioned to him so he could start loading his purchases as well. That opened the door.
“Can you believe these lines?”
I could, actually. Nothing surprises me in the retail industry. I could have just as easily believed it if I had been the only customer in the store. “Yeah, they’re crazy. They have every register open, though, so I’m not going to complain.”
“Any other day of the year, everybody would be screaming their heads off at these lines.”
“Yeah, but it’s Christmas. Everyone seems to be in a really good mood.”
He nodded and it was my turn to talk to the frazzled employee. She was tired and the bag boy was telling her that he hadn’t had a lunch yet, even though he had been there since nine that morning. My purchases were rung up and paid for with very little interaction from her, but I didn’t need interaction. I just needed to get out of there so that I could wrap some presents. The confession with the Christmas Shopper hung with me, though. I talked to Mike about it.
“Those lines were crazy.”
“Yeah, that wasn’t typical Christmas Eve busy. That was crazy Thanksgiving busy.”
“I think people want to celebrate. Maybe it’s because we caught Saddam.”
The second I said it, I knew it was true. At least it was true for me. Sure, I didn’t want to go to war. Sure, I’m not pleased with what my president is doing. Sure, I feel shame at the bully attitude that my country is expressing in the world. But, damn it, I’m glad we found Saddam. We found him cowering in a hole looking like the smelly guy who willing takes half of my burrito when I’m too full to finish it. Not only that, the vision of Saddam, captured and degraded, has convinced Gadhafi to get rid of his weapons of mass destruction in Libya. Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men. We took one step closer to that ideal this year. I felt like celebrating it and so did every other person in that grocery store Christmas Eve.