I seldom shop for groceries after work. "Never shop for food when you're hungry" is what I've often heard said. The crowd has a noticeably different composition. No kids, people in dressy work clothes, those who have no time for any foolishness- "WE'RE HUNGRY! MOVE IT OR BE EATEN!" My needs are few, I have my plan put down on paper (shopping list- in store order, thank you) and I breeze through to the check out. I scan the lanes, and then I see her, my favorite check-out clerk, the consummate pro, Angela. She was but a girl when I started shopping here, seventeen years has made her middle-aged, it has made me just aged. No ring on her hand, her eyes hidden behind her thick glasses, she is very self-conscious and shy; I don't make small talk or too much eye contact, she will blush at the slightest interaction. Still, she is the best, always knows her produce, knows the coupons (and if she has an extra flyer, she'll cut out an deduct a special that you didn't even know about) and sees to it that that conveyor moves. She gives me the total, I hand her my Icelandair MasterCard. As she looks at it with wonder a smile crosses her face for a second- as if it were some rare artifact from another ciclization- her joy is quickly extingushed as she hands it back. I try to smile in my most non-creepy old man way as I say "Thank you..." I don't say her name, it's on her name tag, because if I did I might misspeak and say "Thank you... Angel."