I was at my till. Customers came and went, paid and left. I looked up after one such customer to see gentle brown eyes smiling at me. The owner was a very unlikely person. He was an older man and stood, in a faded plaid shirt, stained slacks and shoes that looked as though they were about to crumble apart beneath him, smiling. "Hello!" he said brightly. I said hello back and rang through his groceries, all of which were inexpensive and hearty. He and his friend waited patiently as I did this.

The friend, who looked as poor as the first man, said nothing but gestured for a bag. The first man told him he didn't need one; they would put it in his backpack. The silent man took a bag anyway and tried haphazardly to put the groceries into it. He seemed confused and muttered to himself a bit as the first man paid. He had a few bills but had to count out the rest of the money from a fistfull of change. He apologized for taking so long and smiled at me again.

Once he'd paid, he helped his friend put the bag into his backpack. He had to rearrange things, but made sure he wouldn't be in my way for the next order. When he was done, he looked straight at me and said (rather lightly), "I used to be a carpenter." I still don't know why he told me that, but it made me feel sad for him. He smiled, thanked me and went on his way. After a few steps, he returned and, once his friend was out of earshot, told me that his "friend has alzheimer's, that's why he was so slow. It's very sad, really." I told him it was alright and he was on his way.

The man struck me as having lost everything around him. His job, his money, his friend... only his tattered clothes remained. But in stark contrast to my usual customers, who are rushed, curt, and treat me like a machine, he seemed happy just to have enough money to buy his groceries. Perhaps he doesn't mind his life situation, but this world still strikes me as being terribly unfair.

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