Marie stopped on her way out of the grocery store and picked up a note card from the table under the bulletin board. The pens had all been pilfered, so she pulled one out of her purse and started writing.
I adore your pesto tortellini. Please keep it until I die.
She put her pen down and tacked the card to the bulletin board. The other notes were all obsequious comments like, “Thanks!” and “Great place, OMG!”. None had the serious nature of hers. She nodded, pleased her comment would stick out among the slush, and walked away, leaving her pen for the next person to write something equally as useful.
Five weeks later, the pesto tortellini was missing from the prepared foods section. Marie immediately went to the manager and demanded answers.
“I can’t say why. It’s one of those decisions from corporate we have to follow,” the manager said, his hair slicked back like a 1950s gangster.
“But I wrote the note. ‘Please keep it until I die,’ I said. It’s my only joy in life. My child failed kindergarten yesterday. KINDERGARTEN. Probably because of my lazy oaf of an ex-husband. And did I mention my mother has cancer? She’ll probably be dead next month. So now you’re telling me the only light left in my world is cancelled by corporate?”
The manager was stuck, uncertain how to respond. Finally he said, “I’ll do my best to let them know, ma’am. Maybe we can bring it back. If you go around with a petition, that might help.”
“What’s the point?” Marie said. “I know how these things work. They’ll try to create a false sense of scarcity, so people buy it in droves when it comes back. Excuse me, I need to get this medicine to my mum.” She walked away, and the manager, realizing that perhaps the customer hadn’t been over-dramatizing, went to his office to call corporate.
Two days later, he saw Marie again in the aisles. He rushed back to his office, then found her again.
“Excuse me, ma’am?”
“Yes? Oh. You. No luck, I see, with corporate?”
“None at all. It was actually just as you said, making false scarcity. Anyway, I made a few calls and got the recipe, and – ”
“That’s very sweet, but I don’t think I have time to make it.”
“No, I didn’t think so, ma’am. Your life sounds quite busy, so here, I made a few portions for you,” he handed her a plastic bag.
Marie stared at him in disbelief. “Why would you do that?”
“Well, you’ve got enough on your plate, and there’s no reason to take away your one joy. So if I can help, even just a little, why not, right?”
“That’s…that’s very sweet of you, thank you, Mr…”
“Just Stephen. And no problem. You have a good day, and give me a call whenever you want more, okay? I need time to prepare it.”
“Of course, thank you, Stephen.”
“You’re welcome, ma’am. Have a good day.” He walked away, and Marie walked toward the exit, dinner for tonight now prepared.