Rick Duerksen

Rick Duerksen

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things:

“Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax --

Of cabbages — and kings . . . ”

--From ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ by Lewis Carroll

I was making cabbage rolls, well, lazy man’s cabbage rolls, for my Sunday supper a while ago. I had the ground beef and pork mixture browning in one pan, and onions, garlic, and mushrooms were being sauteed in another. I pulled the cabbage that I had bought a couple of days earlier, out of the ‘fridge and put it onto the cutting board. I cut the cabbage in two, let the halves fall apart, looked at the exposed surfaces and knew my supper plans had just been altered. The leaves of the cabbage were each separated by a grey, grainy looking substance. It looked like a picture of a rock formation from a geology textbook. It looked very un-cabbage like. It looked inedible. It was a disappointment but not a disaster. I turned the ingredients on the stove top into spaghetti sauce and boiled a pot of pasta instead of making rice. I put the two cabbage halves into a bag and placed them in the refrigerator. I would take care of them, later.

How much is a cabbage worth? What does a cabbage actually cost?

A few days later, I went to the same store to do my weekly shopping. I put my groceries onto the conveyor belt, the cashier ran them through the scanner, and then asked me if there was anything else. Well, yes. I took a fresh cabbage from the cart and placed it, along with the bad cabbage onto the counter. “I bought this cabbage last week and as you can see, it is bad, so I would like to swap it for this cabbage.” I was totally unprepared for the cashier’s response and resulting conversation.

“Do you have your receipt?”

“ Ah, no, I don’t usually keep my grocery receipts.”

“If you had planned on returning the cabbage, you should have kept your receipt.”

“I hadn’t planned on returning the cabbage, I had planned on eating it. And I am not wanting to return the cabbage, I just want to exchange it.”

“Without a receipt, how do I know you bought it here?”

“If I had bought it elsewhere, I would have taken it back there.”

“How do I know you didn’t store it wrong, and it went bad because of that?

“I think I know how to store a cabbage.”

“Without a receipt to credit your purchase against, we will have a problem with our inventory.”

“Wow. Look, I simply want to swap a bad cabbage for, hopefully, a good cabbage. There are $75 worth of groceries in the bagging area. This seems a rather expensive and complicated way to scam your store out of a cabbage. Maybe I could talk with your manager?”

“He’d say the same thing and he isn’t in, anyway.”

It was obvious that I was not going to get my cabbage situation taken care of, so I walked out, leaving all the groceries in the bagging area, unpaid for. Let them deal with that. I left the store with the intent of not only getting my cabbage but of getting some satisfaction. Some revenge. Do you know how small a cabbage seed is? Well, I sowed a small seed of resentment, and it was well developed by the time I got home. I would engage in various acts of protest, directed at the store. I would write letters to the editor; I would start a blog. My Cabbage Monologues would become a ‘must listen to’ series, second only to the original and more interestingly named monologues.

I got home, wondering what I was going to have for supper. What had been on tonight’s menu, I had left at the store. Twice now, that store had deprived me of my planned evening meal. For the first time in a long while I found myself angry, really angry. The cashier had basically accused me of attempting grand theft cabbage and I was not going to accept that. By the time I was done, the store would not only give me my cabbage but would offer me cabbages for life. I would show them. I would … But then I stopped to think. All of this for a cabbage?

How much is a cabbage worth? What does a cabbage actually cost?

I realized what a cabbage was not worth. It was not worth the energy, time, and frustration I was spending on it. It was not worth lowering my standards, it was not worth giving away something I had worked so hard on, over the past while. A cabbage just isn’t really worth that much.

How much is a cabbage worth? I know what a cabbage isn’t worth.

What does a cabbage actually cost? That I can’t answer. I didn’t keep my receipt.