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One for the Boomers

Mid-week. I head down an aisle in Walmart. There, I see what looks like R2-D2. You remember him from Star Wars, right? He’s the short, squatty one.

I stand and stare.

What am I seeing?

A woman stops her cart next to the robot, which does not move an inch.

I ask, “What do you think this is? What’s it doing?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Is it sweeping the floor?”

Like other curious people, I eventually move past it toward the end of the aisle. I ignore the turkeys for 78 cents a pound and pull out my phone. I make a U-turn and head back up the same aisle.

I begin to snap photos of the robot. I want to show my husband. Hey, I want to show the world!

I become stock still. R2-D2 sticks its head up high and lights up the shelves as it moves slowly. It ignores me as I snap more photos. On the front, it says Bossanova, which means nothing to me.

A vendor begins working the opposite side of the shelves. I turn and ask him about the robot.

“It’s a scanner,” he says. “It’s taking inventory. Really something, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I reply. “Really something.”

He continues, “I go to 13 stores, and this is the only place that has one, so far.”

Suddenly, a sad reality hits me. R2-D2/Bossanova will eliminate many jobs for people. Some computer genius or company will make a lot of money for Bossanova, but it won’t be the employees in this store.

I try to take that in.

Employees seem clueless. They smile as they pass Bossanova.

Where have all the flowers gone

long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone

long time ago?

I know about the attractiveness of the forties, fifties, sixties. The time of boomers. I remember the excitement of the Beatles, John Denver, Elvis. I recall the ugliness too—Vietnam War, how no one could balance the national budget, how a trumpet sounded for individual expression, how hearts hurt during the Civil Rights Era.

That was my time. Affluence and CEOs, keeping the world free but wanting more oil.

Where have all the flowers gone?

Today, it’s yoga, hair color, wrinkle creams. New computers, flat-screens, pizza, burgers, going out for Chinese.

Now, here’s Bossanova.

Again, I’m a stranger in a strange land.

Forgive me, high tech people, but I struggle. I’m a boomer and a grandparent. Not sure where all this is going. Will it somehow make my grandchildren better as people? How will my children and their children hold down the family fort?

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

I have a bundle of good memories. Never do I question where my memories belong or what to do with them. They affirm the importance of God and family.

I have been blessed to live in America, a place where I attended church, went to school, listened to pileated woodpeckers, watched a magnificent moon, believed in the goodness of fellow human beings.

These are the things I wish to celebrate at Thanksgiving. But goodness and kindness are not as obvious or as shocking as Bossanova in the middle of an aisle in Walmart.

This week, I’m set on remembering a few things: to thank Jesus for being my Savior, that I’m a sheep, and that God has not given up on me. Grateful, grateful, grateful.

Happy Thanks-giving!

Pat Durmon

(patdurmon.com)

P.S. The pictures of my poetry books below link to their Amazon pages. Christmas presents? All purchases are greatly appreciated!

Bossanova, scanning items at the Mountain Home, Arkansas, Walmart. Photographed by Pat Durmon, November 2019.

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