I was eager to go to the grand opening of a new grocery store at Cook’s Corner in Brunswick. I was expecting free food samples or free helium balloons. I didn’t get either one, but I did receive a $2 coupon for cheddar cheese from a cheerful greeter as I pushed my cart into the store.

As my cart became more and more full of essential and non-essential food items, I eventually ended up with one item remaining on the list: whipped cream cheese. I eventually found the cream cheese in the final aisle, halfway down the row behind a cooler door, shin level. Standing next to the door, his cart unknowingly impeding me from acquiring my last dairy product, stood a tall, stern-looking man with a long, scruffy beard and wild, scruffy hair. The clothes he wore neatly finished his entire scruffy look. If he had had a dog with him, the dog’s name would certainly have been Scruffy.

All that scruffiness made me think he was a member of a Michigan militia group on vacation in Maine, and, like me, needed cream cheese for his bagels. Not wanting an awkward encounter with someone who values his democratic freedoms more than I do, I parked my cart ahead of his and opened the cooler door next to the one I really wanted. In bending down, groping and pushing aside the whipped cream that blocked me from the cream cheese, I accidentally bumped into his cart and imperceptibly moved it backward a quarter-inch or two.

“Very sorry,” I said, grabbing the cream cheese and avoiding his eyes.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” he ominously pronounced as I shut the cooler door, threw the sought-after cream cheese into my cart and skirted away to the closest and emptiest checkout lane.

For the rest of the day his words – or was it wisdom? – haunted me: “You gotta do what you gotta do.” If he had said this about me getting cream cheese, what was this man capable of? Great good? Great evil done in the name of some glorious cause history will eventually condemn?

He is now out there – maybe even living in my hometown – waiting for the moment to come, that he knows is certain to come, when he will be called on to make a great effort that will still likely fail or maybe only succeed because he can do what has to be done when it has to be done – no matter the consequences.

Still, what he needs to do could just be shaving off his long, scruffy beard and trimming his wild, scruffy hair because his wife tells him his look, well, it’s  all too scruffy. If he is like me and always wants to try to remain in his wife’s good graces, he’ll follow orders and do what he’s gotta do.

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