Author Note: This is my second Raising Hope story and it will be a couple of chapters. I'm still getting feel for the characters and love Maw Maw in her more lucid moments. I also enjoy the background characters so they'll be mingled in the story as well. Enjoy

Company Picnic

Chapter 01 – Average Workday

"….and don't put the eggs on the bottom of the bag this time young man!" The old wrinkled coupon clipping nag grumbled. She thrust a fistful of 2 for 1 coupons at the clerk and shook a nicotine tinged finger in the air, "I know exactly how much my groceries cost and if you charge me a penny more I'm telling the manager!" Jimmy looked at his coworker, and friend Eddie, who just grinned and shrugged. When coupon clipper looked the other way, Jimmy "accidentally" stuck his finger in the center of her of loaf of store brand bread.

Eddie told her the price and she shrieked, "Barney! I'm being robbed!" Barney, the store manager, was a quiet middle-aged man who typically shied away from such public displays of aggression. He quietly shuffled over to check stand 3, his rubber soled tennis shoes squeaking pitifully. "Is there a problem here Mrs. Matheson?"

The stringy gray hair shook with fury and spittle formed at the sides of her thin lips. "Yes. This….this thief is trying to steal from me. Those avocados are on sale for 99 cents and he charged me $3.67!"

Barney bit the inside of his cheek and ran and nervous hand through his hair. "Mrs. Matheson, the avocadoes are 99 cents a pound. Not each. I'll be happy to give you a refund."

"Bah!" The clear blue eyes peered at him over her bifocals. "I want ten percent off my entire order or I'm shopping at Delberry's next time."

Jimmy looked at his boss and was silently praying this old nag would quit shopping at the market. A crowd had gathered and Barney was shifting nervously from side to side. He had to put his foot down or his staff would think he was wuss of the century! "Mrs. Matheson. You can accept my offer or I'll personally called Delberry's and tell them you are on your way."

A round of applause went up from the store clerks and the patrons standing in the waiting line. Jimmy was impressed with his boss. The mild mannered man stood up to the crotchety old woman and pretty much evicted her from the store. That was the quality of character that Jimmy Chance needed to have to be a good dad to his daughter Hope.


Jimmy kissed his daughter's cheek as he left for work that morning…just before she upended the bowl of Chellio's cereal on her head. He yelled out, "Mom! I'm late for work. Can you take Hope to the sitter's?"

Virginia quickly walked out of the bathroom with a mouth jammed full of bobby pins. "I'll do it this time but next time don't make yourself so late!" she admonished lightly. She efficiently grabbed the bowl and a hand towel and wiped up the Cheerio-like cereal from the floor clucking her granddaughter under the chin. "Don't forget it's your turn to take Maw Maw to the dentist after work. She lost her dentures again."

Jimmy groaned. "That's today?"

Burt Chance came out of the bedroom pulling a white wife-beater tee shirt over his head. "It's going to be 81 degrees today and I'll be danged if I leave sweat stains on my good shirts."

Virginia looked at her husband. "Honey, you leave sweat stains on everything so it don't matter what you wear. Besides, that's your best white shirt. Go change."

Burt looked flummoxed but turned around and went back to the bedroom mumbling under his breath. Meanwhile, Jimmy looked around to see if Maw Maw was hiding under a lampshade again.

The coast was clear and he ran out the door for the sanctity of his job. A crazy supermarket with a cast of characters working there – but he wouldn't change it for the world. The market gave him health insurance and that made him a better dad to his little girl.

Plus, Sabrina worked there!

Back to the Present:

Sabrina put the cap back on her Magic Marker and tucked the pen in her apron pocket. She walked up to Jimmy and bumped his shoulder. "Did I miss all the excitement?"

Jimmy jumped, slightly startled. Sabrina did that to him. 'Uh…yeah. Barney stood up for Eddie."

Sabrina pretended to gasp. "No! Barney has a spine? Damn, I'm sorry I missed that but you should see what I did to the cantaloupes." Jimmy grinned, "What did you do?"

Sabrina looked at Eddie who was eavesdropping and she leaned close to Jimmy's ear and whispered, "I made all the cantaloupes look like the Rolling Stones."

Sabrina's breath tickled his ear and he shivered. "So you have a really good Mick Jagger? My dad likes Mick." Sabrina smiled. "I can draw some bling if you want. I have a gold pen." She pulled the gel ink pen out of her apron. With her other hand she pulled out some lipstick. "Let's get creative and make Mick's lips bigger." She winked.

Eddie rolled his eyes. Sabrina was teasing his poor friend whether she realized it or not. Jimmy Chance had the biggest crush on the dark haired market employee and she kept him at a friend's-only distance. Poor kid would never meet up to being a "Wyatt". The perfect boyfriend who was studying finances in New York.

Jimmy and Sabrina were almost at the produce department when Barney suddenly called out his name. "Jim. A minute of your time please." Reluctantly, Jimmy turned around and to his surprise saw a lovely young lady standing next to his manager tying on a market apron.

"Jim, Sabrina. I'd like to introduce our newest shift worker, Bethany Clark. Jim, Beth will be working with you this afternoon in dry goods."

Jimmy stepped forward and held out his hand. "Hello Bethany, I'm Jimmy Chance. Nice to meet you."

Bethany smiled and she had the whitest, cleanest, most perfect set of teeth Jimmy had ever seen. Her sapphire blue eyes were a little close together but that smile! He was barely aware that she was shaking his hand until he heard, "Nice to meet you Jim. James. Jimmy. What do I call you?"

Jimmy shook his head and focused on the present. "I'm sorry. Jimmy. Call me Jimmy." Barney smiled while Sabrina frowned. Jimmy was barely aware of anything but that brilliant white smile. "Okay Jimmy….why don't you show me where the dry goods are kept?"

Eddie crossed his arms and stifled a laugh as Sabrina stalked off for the produce area. Little Sabrina was jealous of the new girl!

The rest of Jimmy's shift passed quickly. Bethany had a natural flare for stocking the shelves and made him laugh when she created a pair of alien repelling hats from a damaged box of aluminum foil. Her stacks of Ziplocs and Baggies were perfectly aligned and facing the aisle. She also smelled like flowers and had the prettiest brown hair. It wasn't dark like Sabrina's or as long but brushed her shoulders and reminded him that he was a still a single dad who found women attractive.

"Thanks for the help Jimmy." Bethany said shyly. Jimmy looked at the clock and realized his shift was over ten minutes ago and he forgot about Maw Maw's appointment! The dazzling Bethany smile blinded him. "Oh crap, I gotta go. See you tomorrow Beth!"

Beth watched her new coworker run for the time clock as he untied his apron. Within 30 seconds, he was out the door and driving off in a van. Working with Jimmy was like a dream come true. Jimmy didn't remember her from high school and she didn't expect him too. Five years ago Bethany Clark was known as Big Butt Clark bar. She was one of those girls who hid out in the library at between classes and ate her lunch in the solitude of the faculty bathroom. She had been shy. Even worse, she was shy and ugly. No one had been her friend.

Jimmy had come into the student library one rainy day to turn in a soaking wet version of Catcher in the Rye. Late. He looked so apologetic and the light brown hair on his head was dripping raindrops onto his nose. He was adorable and she felt her heart melt. He smiled at her and said, "Sorry. Fell in a puddle." Then he dropped the sodden book into the Return Book Slot and ran out the door.

She always knew she would meet up with Jimmy Chance one day. It was…..karma.

To be continued…