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TALKING TO MYSELF: 29 MARCH 2013 I have returned from the super -supermarket where I ventured to forage supplies for my family’s Easter dinner coming up on Sunday. Is there a more dispiriting experience than realizing as you cue up in the check-out line that you’ve forgotten, of all things, the ESSENTIAL sour cream which is located in the dairy case a few football fields to the rear of where you presently stand? One wonderful thing did happen to me at the super-supermarket, well two. First, I bumped into my daughter and young grandson in what I think may have been the cookie and cracker aisle though I have a vague visual memory of canned soup and fruit also so I can’t be sure of the location. What I do remember clearly is that I was so excited to see them, I jerked my cart over to the side so we could exchange hello-how funny-to-run-into you- here’s, and, you guessed it, I knocked over an ENTIRE end of aisle display of little boxes of cookies and crackers. That’s when a great thing happened. Two young men, customers like me, leaped to my rescue and picked up all the boxes (and I talking like fifty) and returned them to the display shelves. I was overcome with emotion. Talk about your random acts of kindness! You can have your cup of coffee paid for by a stranger – I’ll take help with clean-up in aisle #470 any day. All of this, of course, reminded me of one of the first essays I had published about ten years ago. I hope it gives you a smile today. Here in Lexington, the sun is shining. May it also shine on you.
The Mega-store and Me
I was wandering around the mega-store the other day when I got to feeling lonely. I was on a quest for plain old saltines, and I’d been at it so long, I began to worry that my grandchildren would not remember me by the time I got back home.
I’d looked in all the logical places, of course, and I’d discovered variations in crackers that I didn’t know existed. Indeed, there was a symphony of crackers, from strident to soothing, for those who had ears to hear. Oval to triangular. Garlic to rosemary tomato. Sans salt to mucho salty. This was the free market at full tilt – enough to make Karl Marx turn over in his grave.
But there were no plain old saltines. In aimless desperation, I began to wander the aisles looking here and there for some clue that might lead me to the treasured Zestas. I went down the toilet paper aisle. It didn’t look promising, but hey, you never know. I peered into the frozen food cases. Again, an unlikely place to stash saltines, but stranger things have happened to me at the mega-store.
Here, I briefly considered tossing a five-gallon box of butter pecan ice cream into my cart, but decided it would melt before I got to the checkout register. Then, feeling faint and disoriented, I considered eating the butter pecan on the spot. I didn’t have a spoon, though, nor the energy to walk over to Housegoods to locate one.
Wait a minute – hadn’t I noticed a restaurant in the mega-store –past Fruits and Vegetables, somewhere between Sporting Goods and Cosmetics? Or was it next to the Meat Market? I decided to seek it out and eat a sandwich while I re-grouped and regained my will to live.
Once, I thought I spotted a clerk on the far horizon, clad in a blue smock, but that turned out to be an endangered species of waterfowl that had taken up residence in the garden center. When I stumbled upon the familiar red and white Campbell’s soup cans crouching near the floor in aisle number 99, I fell on them like old friends. Cream of Mushroom – how’ve you been? Oh, Chicken Noodle – come home with me tonight, and we’ll watch TV in front of the fire!
I began to wonder if the homeless really could live in the mega-store. Hadn’t I seen a movie like that once? I began to plot my strategy in case I couldn’t find my way back out. I’d sleep over in Furniture on one of their fluffy mattresses. I could wash up in the ladies room every morning, and when my clothes got dirty, I’d drop them in the trashcan, and select something new from Women’s Lingerie and Clothing.
I wouldn’t go hungry because there was food everywhere. When I began to gain weight, as I inevitably would, I would hike on over to Sporting Goods and have me a little workout on the exercise equipment.
To keep my mind alert, I’d read my way through the Books & Mags department. I’d catch a little TV news over in electronics. And I could talk to the birds and fish in the Pet section. I’d never get bored.
And of course, I would earn my keep by restoring misplaced items to the proper shelves. Heck, I might even pretend to be a clerk and actually talk to customers who were trying to find something – like plain old saltines.
Just then, my cell phone rang. It was my husband demanding to know where I was. Why, I’m in aisle 105, I said. Where are you? He said he was in aisle 350, near Toys, and across from Electrical Supplies, and for me not to move one inch until he reached me.
I think he was missing me. He’s such a romantic. And wouldn’t you know it – the plain old saltines turned up in a stack as high as the ceiling right in front of the checkout register.
©Copyright Georgia Green Stamper 2013
P.S. In case you've been wondering, the software on my blog site will no longer allow me to center anything. Sigh.