Seventy-three-year-old George McNeilon selected his food in Value Mart more carefully than NASA chose its candidates for the space shuttle. Skim milk was $2.99, on sale from $3.49; white bread, 89 cents with a 10-cent discount; table salt, 99 cents, 20 cents off the regular price. Leaving the cashier, he estimated that he had saved 80 cents today. He was pleased that he had got good value for his money again.
At the exit, the chilly1 wind reminded him of his gloves. "Now where are they?" Not in the coat pockets. Not in the pants pockets. Not in the grocery bag either. He was sure he was wearing them when he entered the store. He clearly remembered thrusting them into the pocket of his coat. The worried man made a second thorough search of all his pockets, again including the grocery bag. Now he was sure they must have been dropped somewhere inside the store.
Old George had bought the black gloves at a 25% discount, for just $35.00, ten years ago. They were genuine lamb skin, soft and warm and very durable2. Until then, he had worn cheaper man-made material that never lasted longer than three years. His impulsive3 decision to buy the expensive gloves turned out to be a good one, which even promoted his social status on the bus, as poorer passengers stared at him enviously4 for six months out of the year. He had taken care not to let a drop of water or rain touch his expensive gloves, so they looked like new. Losing this favourite possession was almost like losing a child to him.
Bad luck, he thought, to lose his expensive gloves on New Year's Eve.
George, calm on the outside but frantic5 on the inside, re-entered the store with long steps. He followed the same route he had walked before, starting at the bread counter, to the dairy section, the aisle6 where salt and sugar were placed, then the rest of the store. They were all open aisles7