“The Invention of How” by Thom Ward

Thom Ward


No algebra or chemistry equations required. Each Sunday at precisely seven a.m., he walked through the automatic doors of the giant, automatic supermarket, pushing a shopping cart full of potatoes, milk, bread, cheese and peanut butter, napkins and chicken cutlets, dozens of items for the cupboards, freezer and fridge. As his truck was parked in a space alongside the cart hangar, where the orange sign read Return Shopping Carts Here, the rest was simple. Removing each item from the cart he carefully stacked the heaviest ones on the bottom, the light ones on the top, building a small pyramid of perishable food on the asphalt. Smiling at such architecture (a single lemon like the star atop a Christmas tree), he’d release the door to the truck’s empty bed, place the shopping cart on its side, push it in, shut the door, climb into the cab, twist the key, and–without hesitation, nostalgia, remorse—drive off.

from Rattle #24, Winter 2005


Thom Ward: “I don’t like to shop in supermarkets, for that matter, I don’t like to shop at all. He’d rather read philosophy, swim in Upstate New York lakes, or floss. Especially the latter, flossing is one of the most underrated ‘How” activities ever invented.” (web)

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