The Milk Man


“Run and find us some whipped cream,” said mom, checking the strawberry cartons for the perfect topping. “It’s in the back.” Vaguely, she gestured behind her, past the frozen fish sticks.

“Got it,” I called, already jogging down the aisle. I emerged in the meat section. Nope, I thought, and prowled left towards the cheese sticks. Dodging a few old ladies with shopping carts; I scanned the shelves from top to bottom. Orange juice, almond milk, eggs, yogurt, tapioca– mmm, I want some of that–

But no whipped cream. I pivoted on my heel, hands on my hips. A harried man in a suit brushed past me, dragging a little girl by the hand. “But I want the crackers, Daddy!” she wailed.

There! I thought I had found it. But on closer inspection, the cylindrical cans were coffee creamer, not whipped cream. Where could it be? I sighed and double-checked the aisle. Skim milk, full milk, 1% and more were settled heavily in their designated spots. I groaned.

Beside me, the 2% shivered in their gallon jugs. From behind, more milk came sliding into place from the refrigerated worker’s area. Someone is re-stocking the shelves, I mused. They probably know where the whipped cream is!

At eye level from the ‘moo’ving milk, I parted the cartons, peering to the back of the shelf. A surprised pair of deep brown eyes under a knitted beanie looked back at me.

“Hello,” I said. “Can you help me? I’m looking for the whipped cream.”

“Uh,” he said. “Yeah. Yes. It’s beside the milk, on your left– right;” he corrected, as I looked over. My hands left condensation fingerprints as I slid the cartons back in place. The kind brown eyes dodged behind some soymilk and reappeared over the eggs. “Right there,” he said. “Next shelf over.” The next shelf over was separated by a mirrored partition. My friend stayed over by the 2% as I hunted for whipped cream.

I called over to the general milk jug I thought he might be behind. “Where?”

“Up at the top,” he responded. I ducked my head to see under the wire shelving. There he was, stooped at eye level with me; still looking rather surprised.

“This direction?” I pointed. I could only see his face from the nose up, but I think he was smiling.

“Yes,” he said. “Right over there.” I stood from my crouch and looked harder. There!

“Got it!” I cheered. “Thank you!” I snatched the biggest container off the shelf– the more whipped cream, the better. “Thanks!” I called again.

“No problem!” said the man behind the milk. “Bye!”

“Bye!”

“Bye!”

I jogged back to my mom at the checkout stand, holding the whipped cream aloft in triumph.

“I found it,” I said. “The milk man helped me.”

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