After a long and appreciated absence, Augie, my personal angel, dropped down from heaven and visited me this weekend. Leave it to Augie to make his divine appearance while I’m power-shopping at Costco.


If you haven’t read about him before, Augie claims to be the real deal: a guardian angel assigned to me from on high. However, he reminds me more of a second-rate poltergeist from an old movie I watched as a kid. Whether the Almighty is attempting to be humorous or is punishing me for a former transgression, Augie is not representative of a celestial being. For one thing, he’s quite pear-shaped, and the off-colored wings sprouting from his shoulders look used and undersized. Now I’m not a stickler for dress codes when it comes to angels, but when Augie isn’t sporting his red, full-body underwear, he’s wearing a half-tucked shirt, with the other half flapping out like a warning flag on the back of a truck.


I’ve never figured out whether other people can see Augie. I hope not, for both of our sakes.


I had gone to Costco to pick up supplies for the office. I’d just grabbed a 30-pack of toilet paper when I saw a marketing lady passing out little toothpicked sausages fresh out of her microwave. My heart-friendly diet forbids me to partake in such food, but, after all, these are just little tidbits. I quickly got in line to try a sample.


I was nearly in arm’s length of the tray when the man right in front of me, who didn’t even have a cart, reached in and took the last three sausages. I’d seen this bald, wandering vulture earlier, going from one table to another, grabbing extra samples at will. I don’t work for Costco, but I decided to point out to this man that he should not grab three sausages and, at best, he was only entitled to one.


The bald man feigned bewilderment and hustled by me, still holding the three toothpicks. In his wake, I could smell the spicy aroma of the sausages. I didn’t chase him down, thanks to the heavy cart I was lugging around, but I did say some pretty nasty stuff under my breath.


That’s when Augie appeared, plopping himself down on my super-sized package of toilet paper and shaking a reproachful finger at me. “Ah, Donald Duffy, your little resentments keep you from a life of love and joy. Thou shalt look inward and repair your own frailties, rather than cast aspersions on others.” (This was delivered in Augie’s heavy New York accent.)


“Of all things,” I whispered to Augie. “This little incident is worth your time to drop down from heaven and scold me? I’m just protecting Costco shoppers from greedy vandals. As my guardian angel, Augie, where were you last week when those three ladies at the laundromat were mocking me for using the floor to fold my king-sized sheets?”


Augie put on his pious look, the one I hate, and directed my shopping cart around the corner. The bald man was giving the three sausages to each of his children. They were giggling with joy and calling him “Pops.” I felt like I was watching a sappy Disney film, and I was the evil villain.


“Okay, okay, Augie, I get it,” I said. “But, can you at least tuck in your shirt?”