A brief scene in Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy. A man has just finished his shift at a grocery store and is waiting for somebody to pick him up. Earlier in the day, his insistence on prosecuting Wendy for stealing a can of dog food led to both her arrest and an extended separation from her dog, Lucy. When she returns to the store, hours later, the dog has disappeared and the man is about to go home. As Wendy frantically searches, the man barely acknowledges her, and when his ride arrives he walks straight past her, gets into a car, and leaves without a word.
This has been a traumatic day in Wendy’s life, but this man is totally unaware of the pain his actions have caused her. Her life is a minuscule part of his own, running together momentarily before diverging again. But by returning to him, Reichardt makes him accountable. Seen outside of work, he’s no longer just an employee following procedure. He’s a human being who made a choice. A choice that changes nothing in his life, but one that changes everything in Wendy’s. She’s left with nothing. He just goes home.