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We’d sit on stools and spin ’round,
then face the drugstore counter
as we waited for our orders
from the high school fountain girl.

A strawberry shake for Susan,
for the boys, root beer floats;
and I’d take a hot fudge sundae,
with real ice cream scooped beneath.

I shopped the store’s two aisles
for toiletries and trinkets, then
when Tom brought my prescription,
we’d talk family and friends.

Today, the concept’s expanded
to big box, superstores,
giving buyers what they want
is what they’re going for.

You can buy tonight’s supper,
and Billy’s new school shoes;
Why, they’ll even change your tires
while you’re shopping other things.

Now if your order is small, and
you’d rather not stand and wait,
you can check yourself out;
a curt, electronic voice will
prompt you what to do and
announce whatever you scan:

Red, delicious apples,
Two dollars; fifty cents savings;
Select your form of payment
on the pen pad found below.”

While this fancy automation
may be a quicker way to shop,
it can’t possibly replace

the voice behind the counter,
someone you’d known forever,
someone who truly cared…

some fifty years ago.