Long ago, I was the grocery-maker, but now, I feel rather useless, since Roger does most of the cooking and therefore shopping. I pick up an errant item here and there, and tote it around the store until I catch up to Roger, wherein I’ll flop it in the basket with a, “I need that boodledeedoos for blahditydah,” and he’ll nod distractedly and keep on going—I’ve never seen anyone plow through a grocery store like he does. I sighed my way down the animalfood aisle when a woman said, “So many cat foods to choose from.” I hesitated: Do I say, “Well, if I had a cat, I’d buy this one here because the cat looks all happy” (although all the cats on all the brands look happy). Do I ignore her because she’s just doing that thing people do? Is she thinking, “Oh, there’s a woman aimlessly walking and sighing, so I guess I have to say something aloud or else there will be a vacuum of nothingness and besides I like the sound of my voice.” I walked on, la tee dah.
In the soup aisle, I picked up two cans of tomato and a can of Vegetarian Vegetable. A very old woman latched onto me with a desperate look and said, “”Where is the rice?” I said, “Oh, um…” I had no idea! I suddenly felt responsible for the old woman. I said, “Let’s try the next aisle,” and we shuffled there, and thank gawd a mighty, there was some rice, but it was weird rice, not rice-rice. She looked at me with disappointed eyes, and I, frantic to please her, walked a bit farther down the aisle, and there! Glorious bags of rice! I shouted out to the old woman who was still staring at the weird rice, “Here they are! The Riceseses!” She inched over, and I hurried to go, hoping to throw my soup into the basket before Roger checked out; but a hand reached out and snatched me back. The old woman said in her wavering voice, “I want the rice that has chicken and it’s in a box.” Oh No! I scanned the rows upon rows of Stuff, and finally, There! I said, rather sreechingly and desperately and stupid grinningly, “There! Rice in a box! Rice in a box!” and when she nodded, I hurried off, barely making it to the checkout in time with my soups.
I walked on my toes, my step lighter; I was smiling instead of sighing; and if I had just a few more minutes, I’d go find that woman in the catfood aisle and say, “That right there is the cat food your cat will love!” and her gratitude would flow across grocery land, onto another customer, who would flow it forward and beyond. By the way, the old woman never thanked me, but I knew she was grateful. I knew as surely as I will stalk the grocery aisles again, waiting for a chance to Save the Day.
(repost from YOG)