Cake, Karma and Saving the Earth

By: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

My supermarket decided to celebrate Earth Day with cake. I’m not sure what cake has to do with saving the Earth but to be honest, I liked their “sweet” effort.  As I walked into the store, two women waved me toward them and pointed to a tray displaying slices of  frosted devil’s food and yellow cake. While my mouth was reciting the appropriate and obligatory “Oh, no I shouldn’t eat this” response, my right hand was reaching for a big piece of chocolate cake.  I hated myself for about two minutes, and by minute three I was tempted to go back and ask to try the yellow cake.

Anyway, I rationalized that I ate the cake for Mother Earth and that I should be proud of myself. By celebrating Earth day, I was certain Karma would reward me for my cake-eating environmental enthusiasm.  And I was right.

Twenty minutes later, I was unloading my cart waiting for the cashier to finish with the person in front of me.  I turned around to double check that I had taken all the items from the cart when I saw a woman behind me carrying nothing but a bag of hamburger rolls and a reusable shopping bag. I like when people use those bags especially on Earth Day. I felt a connection with this woman as I too had my reusable bags with me.  Most of the time I forget them in the car, and do the environmental walk of shame to my car. The environmental walk of shame is similar to the one-night stand walk of shame only one carries plastic bags instead of one’s underwear and a guilty smile.

Anyway, the woman was wearing scrubs so I figured she was a hard-working health professional probably just done with her shift at the trauma center and running a fast errand on her way home to her five hungry children.  Hey, she could have had five children. She looked like someone who would have five children. It’s my story so don’t judge.

Feeling good about Earth Day and my commitment to the planet and my respect for health professionals, I asked her, “Is that all you have?” pointing to the rolls.

She looked me directly in the eye — and I cannot stress this enough and said, “YES!”

“Then, go ahead of me. I can wait another second or two.”

“Thanks a lot,” she said as she moved past me in the line.  I turned my back on her to grab some mints off the candy display and when I turned back again, she was pulling from her earth-friendly disposable bag yogurts, milk, mustard, Ben & Jerry ice cream, cereal and some candy from the bulk food aisle.  She had more stuff in that bag than I had in my cart, and now they were all in front of the plastic divider waiting to be scanned.

“I thought you only had the rolls?”  I asked with a twinge of annoyance in my voice.

“I know you did. And I lied, but frankly I didn’t want to wait in line.  Thanks for making my day.”

What do you say to that? I was going to deliver a nice expletive, but I didn’t want to pollute Earth Day with foul language.  When it was my turn to pay, the cashier gave me a look of sincere pity and said,

“Honestly, she had me fooled too.  I didn’t know that bag had anything in it.”

“Well, it could have been worse,” I responded. “She could have paid for the rolls and stolen all the other crap.”

So, what is the moral of the story?

First: People who wear scrubs are not always heroes

And Second:  Cake can indeed make you stupid.

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