"Oh, you've expired!"exclaimed the smiling gal across the counter.
I confess to having been somewhat taken aback by this news, however cheerfully it had been delivered. Me? Expired? I didn't feel expired, though I was of course in the check out queue. Further assessment seemed required.
I noted that I was apparently breathing normally -- there were coolish wafts filling my nostrils when I inhaled. A cursory scan of my kinesthetic sensors revealed nothing out of the ordinary -- my feet felt firmly planted on hard twist charcoal carpet and I was in the vertical position. I studied the beaming face in front of me. The gal did not look at all like God, well at least nothing like the picture in the Sistine Chapel (that's the official portrait of God right?), nor did she bear any resemblance to St. Peter or any other members of the heavenly realm in the official portrait gallery. And I was comforted to discover not the least bit of red, not even a cape, nor any beastly appendages (horns, tail, pitch fork).
Expired? Surely not! But I suppose it was possible -- an utterly seamless transition from this world into the next, from a book store in Newmarket to the BIG book store in heaven. But then why would I buy a book on the Galapagos Islands? Why would I buy a book, period? Does one read in eternity? Go to bookstores? Is it possible to be tourist and go on vacations to exotic islands?
OMG - is this what happens when one plans a tour to the land of Darwin?
|Pius IX Declaring Dogma of the Immaculate Conception (Francesco Podesti, 1856) in The Vatican Museum|
I was getting quite worked up about all this. I took a step back to observe the surroundings again. If this was eternity, what the heck were the big retailers doing up here? Was there a Walmart too? Well they better have a more equitable merchandising and employee policy in place. I demand fair trade at the very least. But just exactly what am I going to do about it if that's not the case? Go to customer service? Perhaps I had gone to hell in a hand basket, after all.
"She looks pretty alive to me." The deep male voice from somewhere behind me snatched me back into the present moment. Less than five seconds have passed since I learned that I had expired. The cashier was still beaming at me, my rewards card fluttered between the fingers of her right hand.
"Oh! You mean my card has expired."
"Yes," she stammered, "would you like to renew it?"
"Yes, please. Go ahead."
"That comes to $54.67."
She pushed the card reader toward me. I dutifully entered my PIN and then I'm sure I saw the screen flash:
'Galapagos tour book plus a rewards card renewal: $54.67©2014 April Hoeller
Flight of fancy to eternity and back, in under 5 seconds: Priceless!'