Jaw Dropper

I had something happen to me that was so astonishing that my jaw dropped. For one of only a few times in my life, I was speechless. Some background is necessary before this will make sense.

My Dad was a businessman in the Lansing, Michigan area for 4 or more decades. The business was originally a feed store, but it evolved into a pet supply business. As children, we often “went to the store with Dad.” The feed that was sold at the store was for farm animals, pets, and even softener and ice salt. It was not an unusual week when several semi trucks pulled up that needed to be unloaded with bags of things for the store. A typical semi load of softener salt, for example, had about 20 tons, meaning there were 500 80# bags of salt. The store had no fancy loading dock, nor pallet jacks or fork trucks. The truck simply backed up to the storage building, and we unloaded it a bag at a time.

To carry these bags, we’d flip them on our shoulder, walk to the pile, and flip the bag onto the pile, then back again for another load. It didn’t end there. When customers bought these items, they were carried from the pile in the storage building over to the trunk of their car. Sometimes we’d deliver the bags to their home, making an additional loading and unloading.

In the course of my life, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I’ve carried tens of thousands of bags of one sort or another. And the vast majority of them involved flipping the bag up onto my shoulder and walking with it.

Today on our weekly trip to town for errands, I stopped at the pet supply store and purchased a bag of dog food for Franco. As is my habit, I carried the bag to the front counter, paid for it, and flipped it onto my shoulder to carry it out to the car. This flip, mind you, is the same flip I’ve repeated unchanged for 3/4 or more of my life.

This time, the front half of the bag (the one facing forward) did its job just as it always has. The seam holding the dog food on the back half of the bag burst, and about half the little pellets of the dog food sprayed all over the store. That was when my jaw dropped.

The employees of the store were very quick to spring into cleanup action while I stood there like a dummy. When I finally regained my speech, I asked them if I could get another bag of food. They said yes, and so I did. I did not flip this bag onto my shoulder to carry it out to the car. I wonder if I’ll ever flip another one onto my shoulder again.

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