By Linda Porter Carlyle
MacKenzie Isabelle Evans walked down the sidewalk pulling her old red wagon behind her. Which meant it must be Tuesday afternoon, because Tuesday afternoon was Mac’s going-to-the-market-for-Miss-Hazel-and-Miss-Minerva afternoon.
Mac listened to the wagon clank as it bumped along the sidewalk. It was a happy sound. She was so glad she lived in a safe town where she could go to the market by herself. Of course, her dad was the chief of police and he made sure Jacksonville was safe!
Mac turned in at the opening in the white picket fence and pulled the wagon to the bottom of the front steps. She left it there and hopped up the four steps to the door.
The door opened. It usually opened before Mac had a chance to ring the bell because Miss Hazel watched for her. Sometimes Miss Hazel or Miss Minerva would walk to the market with Mac. But Mac knew this would not be one of those days. Miss Hazel was not looking her usual neat self. In fact, her hair looked as if she had forgotten to comb it at all this morning.
“I’m glad to see you,” Miss Hazel said. “I was hoping you would come early this afternoon. Minerva is sick, and I am really worried about her. Would you please stop by the pharmacy and pick up her prescription too?”
“Sure. No problem!” Mac exclaimed. She took the grocery list and the $20 bill Miss Hazel handed her and stuffed them in her pocket. “I’ll hurry,” she assured her.
“You don’t have to pay for the prescription,” Miss Hazel called after her. “I charged it.”
Mac jogged down the walk, the wagon clanked along. It was only two blocks to the market. She was there in a jiffy. She left the wagon outside and went through the automatic door. These automatic doors annoyed her every single time she came to the market. For some reason, the “in” door was the left door instead of the right one. Mac couldn’t count the number of times she had forgotten that and almost bumped her nose on the glass of the right-side door which would not open to let a person into the store.
Mac thought perhaps the doors had been installed by someone who used to live in England. She had heard that cars drive on the left-hand side of the road there. She thought it must be very confusing for the English people.
It didn’t take long for her to find everything on Miss Hazel’s list. It was mostly juices, and fruit, and canned soup this week Mac noticed. She got in line at the check-out counter.
“It’s the Neighborhood Shopper!” Fred, the clerk, exclaimed.
Mac grinned. She liked Fred. He was always cheery.
“I’ve got one for you,” Fred said. “A man left for a trip on a Friday. He was gone for five days, and he came home on a Friday. How did he do that?
Mac frowned, thinking, while Fred rang up the groceries. “That will be $16.83,” he said.
She handed him the $20.00 bill. “That’s impossible!” she said flatly.
“No, it’s not,” Fred retorted. “The man came home on a horse named ‘Friday’!” He laughed.
“I’ll have a riddle for you next time!” Mac said as she picked up the bag of groceries and went out the door. The left door.
Mac popped into the pharmacy which was so close to the market that they shared a wall. She put the little white bag containing Miss Minerva’s prescription into the big brown bag that held the groceries. Then she put the big grocery bag into the wagon and hurried off.
Mac clumped up the steps. Miss Hazel opened the front door, and Mac carried the groceries into the kitchen for her. She put the bag on the counter.
Miss Hazel reached for the prescription. “Thank you for being so quick,” she said to Mac. “I’m going to take these pills in to Minerva right away.”
Mac looked around at the kitchen. There were dirty dishes stacked on the counter. She had never seen dirty dishes in Miss Hazel’s kitchen before. Miss Hazel must be really worried about her sister to not even take time to wash them.
Suddenly Mac had a thought. She remembered what her Sabbath School lesson had said about serving people without expecting a reward. She went to the sink and turned on the hot water. She could do the dishes for Miss Hazel. It wouldn’t take her long at all! In fact, she was halfway through with the job when Miss Hazel came back.
“Oh, dear, you don’t have to do that!” Miss Hazel exclaimed.
“It’s OK,” Mac answered. “I wanted to. I thought it would make you feel better.”
Miss Hazel sank down onto a chair at the kitchen table. She looked tired. “I can’t pay you extra for helping out,” she said. “I have to count the pennies while Minerva’s sick.”
Mac’s eyes widened. “I’m not washing the dishes for money!” she exclaimed. “I am being altruistic. It’s a word I learned for Pastor Chuck,” she explained.
Miss Hazel laughed and laughed. The worried frown completely disappeared from her forehead. “Do you know what ‘altruistic’ means? she asked.
“Of course, I do!” Mac said. “It means I am being a blessing.”