pinched loaf (2013)




A baguette had just rode the roof of a silver Golf all the way from a bread store to where I found it on top of the car parked in the space next to me when I pulled in. This I could tell not through the cellophane window on the paper bag it was in, but from how the very corner of the bag had become fatefully pinched in the closed car door; the loaf nestled under a ski rack. When the passenger exited the car and closed the door they must have unknowingly re-secured the situation at this location. Because we were at a food store I could assume they had purchased the bread elsewhere and were now at this new international food market for a special product. Not wanting to trouble the seemingly pleasant Border collie looking at me through the window of the backseat, I headed straight into the store and right to the customer service desk.

After I explained the situation and recommended he make an announcement over the loud speaker the manager stood up and walked out the front door - I assume to take a look at the scene for himself. Although I continued my shopping trip as normal, I was now filled with the anticipation of hearing a voice on the loud speaker announcing the owner of a silver Golf had a baguette on the roof of their car. But the loud speaker never came on and as I glanced over at the customer service desk on my way to the check-out counter I saw the manager was back to whatever he was doing on a computer when I first approached him upon entering the store.

Waiting in line I found myself sizing up the other customers around me and wondered who was the driver of the newish silver Volkswagen, ski rack, no bumper stickers, backseat-Border collie, baguette. I had a feeling by the way the cashiers looked at me that they were curious as to what I had said to the manager earlier which compelled him to get up and go outside with a confused look on his face. I decided not to tell them about the baguette on the roof of the car. I figured the owners of the Golf had probably left the store a few minutes before me; they found the baguette on the roof, pulled it inside and shared a chuckle with the oblivious dog as they drove across town.

But to my delight upon exiting the store I could see the car was still parked next to mine and so I briskly walked over to my car, tossed the groceries in backseat, opened the glove compartment, ripped a sheet out of a mini graph-paper spiral notebook, scribbled down “there is a loaf of bread on your roof”, folded and tucked the note under their windshield wiper and drove away without hearing a single peep from the collie.  I bet they saw the note in front of their faces and were able to reach up and grab the bread sitting on the roof above their head. Or maybe the clumsy passenger went to go put something else on the roof and discovered the lost loaf that way. I wondered what they thought about the whole thing and mostly what they wound up doing with my note. I’ve juggled words around to tell this story before, but it wasn’t until I sat down at the computer and got about halfway through typing this out that the noteworthy word combination that appears singled out, capitalized and underlined atop the page came to reveal itself to me.