Slice of Life Story -Delve Into Twelve

What is it about the number 12 that so many people have difficulty with? Twelve is a most intriguing number. Most calendar systems have twelve months in a year. The Western zodiac has twelve signs, as does the Chinese zodiac. There are twenty-four hours in a day in all, with twelve hours for a half a day. A new day starts with the stroke of midnight. Furthermore, the basic units of time (60 seconds, 60 minutes, 24 hours) can all perfectly divide by twelve. Twelve squared is 144, also known as a gross. Twelve is a great number!

The concept of a dozen however seems to elude many of my fellow citizens it seems. Today I was standing in the supermarket line patiently awaiting my turn at the checkout, and it became obvious that the customers in front of me had so blatantly exceeded the ’12 items or less’ message despite the fact that it is so clearly displayed for all to read.

Not a big deal? Well the first few times it happened I let it roll by. Then I started silently counting just to confirm my suspicions. Then I ruminated on this a little more- maybe they figured if two of them strolled up to the checkout they were entitled to present at least 24 items (a multiple of 12) But I them noticed that one person did all the handling of the items while the other stood silently by like a potted plant making no discernable contribution to the entire process. Others I figured had reconciled that seven tins of cat food counted as one item –cat food!

Mostly though, I figured they didn’t really give a flying fig what anybody else thought. For them, it was just a matter of convenience and it sure beat standing in line behind a shopping trolley laden with enough produce to get a family of four through the winter, let alone a normal week.

Normally, I wait in the queue, gathering ideas about characters and dialogue or merely observing human interactions.- Kids grabbing at sweet temptations strategically placed within grasping distance, disaffected teens thumbing through trashy magazines as they wait, harassed mothers trying to will their errant toddlers through the stainless steel corral, or tired robotic workers shuffling home with a few last minute items.

As I stand in line, my mind has turned perversely to solutions to this problem of presenting more than 12 items. Maybe an alarm could ring when the magic number is exceeded and the shameful shopper would then stand in the lonely square for five minutes while others tut- tutted as they hurried by. Maybe their excess items could be donated to charity. Maybe they could be slapped with a ‘twelve’ day ban. –oh the possibilities!

As you can understand, I am not good at supermarket shopping. I am a most reluctant hunter and gatherer. It is an act of last resort. I think I need to unwind; forget about the number twelve, savour a coffee and enjoy a good read.


  1. Your 12's remind me of the writing & thinking I've been doing about 3's lately.

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