A crisp Saturday morning (10:00am), a man was pushing a
collapsible two-wheeled hand cart stacked with three cases
of soft pretzels. The Pretzel Man, on a diagonal path through
the City Square, stopped briefly to say "Hello"
to the municipal park attendant and volunteer groundskeeper
who were sharing the responsibilities of carefully raking
up fallen leaves from beneath the knee-high shrubbery. Amongst
the leaves were discarded food wrappers and napkins thought
to have blown away from the previous day's lunch crowd who
carelessly lifted their soft drink that was being used as
a makeshift paperweight.
"Strong breeze," complained the attendant. "Those
toddlers are so fascinated by wind-wisped tissues, letting
them go, floating away like a balloon," she added.
"I find the baby-sitter," said the groundskeeper
assertively. "I encourage the sitters to handle
their responsibilities and teach those kids to pick-up their
trash, recycle, or something. The sitters feel bad.
They do have a hard time trying to chase down the paper
and keep an eye on the kids." He laughed with empathetic
satisfaction, kicking a divot into the freshly dampened
soil, then stamping his foot to pack the displaced turf.
The attendant admonished convivially the Pretzel Man for
the abundance of wax paper she and the groundskeeper had
to wrestle from the shrubs. The Pretzel Man pleaded, "Not
my fault," adroitly casting blame on the nesting birds
and squirrels before changing the subject to the topic of
his grandchild's behavior. The attendant and groundskeeper
shared likewise stories about their extended offspring.
The attendant bragged that her oldest little kiddo
was about to start the fifth grade. The groundskeeper intoned,
"... almost a teenager, soon to be a young adult...."
The three conversationalists (attendant, groundskeeper,
and Pretzel Man) paused to look off in a distance, careful
not to touch on any personal faults of their own, nor any
prior familial disappointments.
Their chit-chat was intentional. The Pretzel Man was not
passing through the Square on a shortcut route to deliver
the cases to a nearby neighborhood mini-mart and by chance
run into some longtime friends; on the contrary, he stopped
to talk in order to get unofficial permission from the attendant
and the groundskeeper to sell his pretzels as well as get
an endorsement affirming to the casual-goers within sight
and/or earshot that he was there to do 'legitimate' business,
a business most familiar to the folk-foodies, the locals
who had been raised on this accustomed delicacy.
A couple of loyal patrons had been waiting for the Pretzel
Man's arrival, sitting on their bench, reading a
newspaper, wondering when the heck was he going to get here.
"Should be only a few minutes now," one patron
turned to comfort another a few adjacent benches over. Relieved,
another, finger trembling, pointed to a figure beside the
one growing impatient.
"How many," the Pretzel Man inquired.
"Just one," stated firmly.
"Not two?" A lousy attempt to upsell jokingly.
No verbal reply. "Okay. Mustard? Oh yeah." The
Pretzel Man cringed for being forgetful. With a quick upside-down
shake of the plastic squeeze bottle, a perfect figure eight
stream of the 'yellow stuff' one liked to say.
"No need to apologize," stated the patron with
a facial-ticked grin. "Here you are," he said
"And here you are--a wonderful day," said
loud enough without shouting, emphasizing to potential customers
his friendly demeanor.
"See you later," confirmed another before taking
his first bite. "Oh, wait. Gimme some to take to the
house. They'rah, to share with my wife. My staple diet;
"Yeah, yeah--right. Don't worry. I'll come back around
in about an hour or so with a another batch. I'll have five
in a bag for you individually wrapped."
"Understood. I understand. Make sure you come back,
or I'll send five looking for ya!!!"
"Okay. Alright. You just remember to freeze 'em tonight,
defrost as you go. Toaster oven. No nukes!"