Mario Giacomazzi wasn’t always a Trader Joe’s checker. He is older than most by around 30 years and whatever he did before checking my groceries, it required a back straight like a plank with pulled back shoulders to match. The short gray hair so perfectly pomaded atop his utilitarian head is probably only a requirement for Mr. Giacomazzi, but I trust his former employer appreciated the effort. A good countenance counts in business. Or the military and engineering, which are the other professions I like to imagine Mr. Giacomazzi steadfastly pursuing for 40 odd years before life landed him shocked but dignified on an OSHA approved rubber mat in front of a register.
He is slow and methodical, which allows me time to size him up while my fingers somersault the debit card on the counter in front of me. I keep time with the groceries as they inch their way across the scanner. Long side of the debit card, bananas. Short side of the debit card, cereal. Long, short, long, short. The orchid presents a problem (where to put it! where to put it!), but eventually we hit the yogurt. I am officially scanned.
Now, the packing.
His eyes take in the groceries in front of him and I can see him plotting the most efficient way to bag them. He opens a bag, takes a deep breath (much like a high diver before a great jump) and begins. I am not surprised, but I am impressed. He excels at bagging. Second to none. The very, very best. Only once, towards the end, did he fumble. He bagged the bananas when clearly, to Mr. Giacomazzi, the bread should have gone in first. He regroups, takes out the bananas, and bags the bread with the bananas on top. Everything is going to be okay.
Definitely an engineer.
I walk out of Trader Joe’s with two bags that hold a box of cereal, a pint of sour cream, a large can of tomatoes, a pound of dried beans, two eggplants, 2 cartons of vegetable stock, one bag of lettuce, a jar of saffron, a large jar of applesauce, several pounds of oat bran, a large tub of yogurt, sushi, corn tortillas, a loaf of bread, two dozen eggs, and a bunch of bananas. The orchid remains safely nestled in the cart, flanked by one bag and my purse. Mr. Giacomazzi prefers it that way.