The modern hunter arrives, dressed to blend in seamlessly, camouflaged, anonymous, on the prowl. Aptly prepared, he mentally checks his list. With deliberate, practiced movements, he carefully maneuvers, graceful, quiet, senses keen. As planned, his chosen quarry has no idea he is even there.
The hunter surveys the landscape. The terrain, though mostly hidden from view, is clearly mapped out in his mind's eye, familiar from repeated forays. Like any good hunter, he has prepared well. The survival of his family is on the line, the price of failure, too steep to consider. He checks his equipment one more time. He recalls an incident, a long time ago, where one faulty part, that annoying wobble, combined with a moment of inattention, nearly cost him his life. The avalanche he caused disrupted hunting parties in the entire area. He vowed to never make that mistake again.
As he begins the hunt, he can't help but notice he is not alone. Indeed, this is a popular hunting ground, used for generations. But no matter, he is accustomed to the distractions, and the competitor in him welcomes the challenge. After all, he is Bob. Father, provider, real man, master of his domain. The other shoppers are no match for his prowess. He picks through fruits and vegetables with practiced ease, gathering only the choicest selections, as the other shoppers can only look on with awe at his skill. And meats, no prepackaged specimens, with their substandard portions hidden from view. Straight to the butcher he goes, his knowledge and tastes equal to that of the finest epicurean.
And on it goes, throughout the store, items growing in his cart as if by magic. Precisely arranged so nothing is damaged, no space wasted. Choosing specimens based on best value, ounce by ounce, to the penny. He ignores the siren call of name brands, fancy packaging and boastful claims. Read the label, that is his mantra. His one exception, Coke. It is, after all, the Real Thing.
His gathering complete, only the checkout remains. In some ways, the most challenging part of the whole outing. Aside from the parking lot, of course. (A story in itself, see "The Commute") Lowly shoppers, like sheep to the slaughter, bleating and shuffling. Not him. He scans, sees a cashier approaching, and, anticipating her obvious destination, swoops in to claim his rightful place, front of the line, leader of the pack. "Amateurs", he chuckles to himself. The experienced cashier deftly scans his purchases, obviously impressed. As the transaction nears its end, she makes an unforgivable error. "Coupons?" she asks. The silent glare is my response. Red faced, she meekly completes the transaction. Properly chastised, she doesn't bother to ask if I collect whatever pedestrian nonsensical game piece or stamp currently on hand to distract the masses from their dismal inadequacy. Task completed, mission accomplished. I glower at the bag boy, silently daring him to ask if I require help out. He wisely holds his tongue, obviously wise beyond his years.
As I walk, triumphant, the successful hunter, proudly carting his prize through the asphalt jungle to my trusty steed of steel and chrome, I pause, and smile. Still to come, the drive home. The adventure continues...
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