Don’t Let the (Free) Turkeys Get You Down


“Congratulations!” boomed the checkout girl in the supermarket aisle as she handed me my receipt. “You qualify for a free turkey!”

I looked down at the piece of paper and saw that I had spent enough at the market in the past two months to earn myself a free Thanksgiving turkey. Truthfully, with the amount I spent, I should have gotten a cow, a goat and a whole coop of chickens for free.

“Go get your turkey!” she said gleefully. I looked at the long line of impatient customers behind me.

“Nah, that’s OK,” I said. “I’ll get it next time.”

“You have to get it today,” she insisted. “It expires tomorrow!”

“No, really, it’s OK,” I said looking nervously behind me. “I’m not making Thanksgiving this year.” She stared me down. “And, um, I’m, uh, a vegetarian!” I stammered.

“Get your turkey!” she bellowed.

I felt like I was in some kind of weird Thanksgiving game show. “Tracy Beckerman, you have one day to claim your free turkey! Get it now or be forced to have a tofu turkey for thanksgiving. Deal or no deal?”

The checkout girl stood with her hands on her hips waiting for me to go fetch my frozen bird. Since I hadn’t paid yet, I had no choice but to obey.

As I made my way down the line, I apologized to the angry throngs. “I’m really sorry, I have to get my free turkey,” I said meekly as they glared at me. “It’s my last day to get it or I’ll get picked up by the poultry police.”

I ran back down the meat aisle, but when I got to the frozen turkey bin, it was empty. The place was utterly turkey-less. There were chickens and ducks and even a quail, but nary a turkey breast or drumstick to be found. The turkeys all flew the coop.

I looked around for some help, but the place was deserted. There weren’t even any other customers around… probably because they were all on the checkout line behind me waiting for me to come back with my stupid free turkey.

By the time I got back to the checkout, the line had doubled in size. There was only one other checkout line open, which would have been perfectly adequate if there wasn’t some idiot doing laps around the supermarket looking for a nonexistent turkey.

“There are no more turkeys,” I told the checkout girl when I returned to the counter. “Can I just get a couple of chickens instead?”

“Has to be a turkey,” she said, examining her fingernails. I could sense the rage building in the line behind me. I knew any moment I was going to be trussed up like a thanksgiving turkey myself and then tarred and feathered.

“Can you call someone to find one for me, please,” I said desperately. “Maybe they have one in the back or something?”

She suddenly realized there was an angry mob without turkeys but with lots of other groceries waiting to check out, so she picked up the housephone. “Turkey in checkout 2. Turkey in checkout 2, please,” she announced. I rolled my eyes.

The man in line behind me smiled.

“Yes,” he said. “There certainly is.”

©2011, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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