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The Empathetic Cashier at the Market

I have a keen interest in writing articles, essays, short stories, and fiction. And I love to share them here.


This article was written as a response to prompt#3 of the article titled, “10 Creative Writing Prompts to Feed Your Imagination” authored by fellow HP writer, K. S. Lane.

K. S. Lane’s Prompt#3

Write a story where a character you have written about previously walks through a market. Describe the market from their point of view and include an interaction between them and one of the stallholders. Then, do the same thing with another character you've written, having them interact with the same person.

Put the two stories side by side and try to isolate the differences between the two characters. For example, do they notice different features of the market as they pass through? How do their conversations with the seller differ?

The Empathetic Cashier at the Market- The Response

Spencer Lincoln, with a heavy heart, walked through the aisles of the market. He said to himself, “There’s still plenty of vegetables at home. And the garden will bloom more. I will just buy fruits for the children. I may even take some for Gianna at the hospital.”

Pic: The Fruits Section in the Market

Pic: The Fruits Section in the Market

Pic: More Fruits

Pic: More Fruits

He hardly looked sideways, trying his best to concentrate on what he would buy. It was really hard to think Gianna would have such a terrible accident. Life was a constant battle ever since she had the accident, and Spencer was always near to tears, breaking down. But he had to go on. The children should not be deprived of nutrition, he thought.

After his grocery basket was full of fruits of various kinds, Spencer paced fast towards the counter. He hardly smiled at the cashier at the counter. Nothing would make him smile, not until Gianna was completely okay. The cashier said nothing but suspected that something was wrong. He managed to say, "Is everything okay?"

"Yes, so-so", said Spencer. "I have come to learn that you cannot take life for granted. My wife had a severe car accident, and she is at the hospital."

The cashier said, "I am so sorry to hear that. Is there any way I could help you with more fruit varieties?” He gave a quick look at Spencer’s grocery basket.

Spencer replied, “No, that would be all. Thanks.”

The cashier said, “Okay.” He measured them on the balance and let Spencer know the total price. He produced his credit card, and the cashier deducted the payment from the card.

Before Spencer left, the cashier said, “Have a good day, Sir.”

Spencer replied solemnly, “I wish you the same.” And he left the market, quickening his steps and having clouded thoughts once again.

Sebastian Cameron soon entered the market. He was highly spirited, looking here and there and around. He was especially happy how his detective friend, Allan Harvey helped to outwit the gangster, who was a threat to his newly married life.

Pic: The Vegetables Section in the Market

Pic: The Vegetables Section in the Market

Pic: More Vegetables

Pic: More Vegetables

His eyes fell on the vegetable corner. He knew which vegetables were a favorite of his wife, Joyce. He picked up cabbages, cauliflowers, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes. Next, he went over to the fruits section and picked up oranges, apples, and grapes and placed them in his basket.

He strolled like a happy man to the cashier. He asked eagerly, “Good day! How are you doing?” The cashier merrily replied that he was okay. He added, “It looks like you are happily settled in life. Aren’t you?”

“Yes”, said Sebastian. “You are smart enough to notice that.”

“Good”, said the cashier. "I see so many people come here to the market every day. Not everyone is happy as you."

“Yes”, said Sebastian. “It’s highly probable you get to encounter people in different moods. Not all of us will be happy.”

"Yes", said the cashier. "You are quite right. Good day to you, Sir." He returned his credit card.

Soon Sebastian left the market with light bouncing in his steps.

Why Were the Approaches of the Two Men Different at the Market?

One was struggling with a severely hurt wife at the hospital, and the other just managed to save his wife and himself from a gangster. His detective friend helped him out. Two days ago, Sebastian was also tensed up, unable to think what would happen to his wife and himself, coming under the threat of a gangster. Now that problem was solved. So, he could accept life cheerfully and buy vegetables and fruits of his wife’s choice. And that explained his lively chat with the cashier.

Spencer, on the other hand, had been under too much anxiety about what would ultimately happen to his wife and their children, especially after her critical car accident, which was none of her faults. She was bandaged from head to foot, lying on the hospital bed. "Would she ever be fully okay?" Spencer worried all the time.

He could hardly focus on the environment at the market. He had a hard time concentrating on the fruits section, thinking of nutrition for his children and also his injured wife. He could hardly smile at the cashier but decently answered his questions and wished him a good day as well, before leaving the market in complete gloom.


Good and bad things happen to us all in our daily lives. Sometimes we are happy, and sometimes we struggle. So, we shouldn’t judge people with our thoughts. Like the cashier who encounters dozens of customers every day at the market, we should show empathy to all and try to put ourselves in others’ shoes and understand their pain if they are struggling and on the other hand, join them in their happiness if they are having good times. The cashier had the gift- he just knew how to embrace his customers and be empathetic.

This short story is a response to prompt#18 of Earl S. Wynn’s article, “101 Writing Prompts to Inspire You.” Sebastian and his wife, Joyce are just back from their honeymoon and settling in their new home when he gets a disturbing phone call from a gangster. Can Sebastian act quick enough to save themselves? Click the above link to read on.

This piece is written as a response to prompt#11 of HP fellow writer, Earl S. Wynn's article, "101 Writing Prompts to Inspire You." Software Engineer, Spencer Lincoln was at work, which seemed like any other day when drastically it turned out to be a very unfortunate day. What happened? Click the above link to read on.

© 2022 Rosina S Khan

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