Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moments of life: "At the food store"

It's 9 am on Wednesday. I walk into the food store pulling my polkadot Ikea bag. It's not a particularly fancy food store, neither do they have the best produce in the area, but it's on my way home from the school where I drop LoLo of three times a week. I pick my second pair of wheels at the door and carry on through the organic section pulling my bag in one hand, cart in the other. The broccoli looks good, I grab a bag of celery that is destined partially for the garbage and check the price of the organic strawberries hoping the 9.99 USD price tag was half.
It's not.    

I roll through the isles still half asleep visualizing my coffee that awaits at home. If I can't make it, I'll just grab one at a bakery on the way home.
There aren't many of us, shoppers here at this hour. A few pensioners and another half dozen of stay-at-home moms perhaps. We keep passing each other.
"Excuse me"
"Excuse me"
Some are more patient than others.
I can't imagine what it would be like to be here during busy hours. I maneuver my four wheels with proficiency that comes with practice of frequent visits.
I am glad we retired our double stroller; that was a real challenge! Great times were had, but I could never buy paper towels those days, because that isle is notoriously full of boxes to be restocked leaving barely any space to pass by.
No toilet paper either!

"Excuse me!"
The voice sounds more pronounced this time.
It's the same lady.
I can't shrink my bags, or my long grey puffy jacket lady, you'll just have to manage! ..

Everyone is grumpy!
I am grumpy!
No wonder, it's the middle of January, it's cold and wanting to rain outside.
It's also grey.

I can't find yeast! I've never bought yeast, but I promised the kids to make heart pretzels. The lady next to me looks like she would know; she does. She directs me to a small box with little silver envelopes.
I would have never found it!
She's not happy either. Polite, but not happy.

The stock boy with a huge trolley is annoyed, I can tell!
He grimasses when I try to move out of his way.
"I'll wait!" trying to buy sympathy points  ...
"No, you go!" he instructs me firmly; I comply.
I can't turn from one isle to the other. The wheels don't cooperate, so I force my bag in front while lugging the cart behind almost knocking over the cookie display on sale.

The frozen section gives me chills even in the summer.
As I turn by the stack of tortillas I hear a familiar tune come through the store speakers. All I've registered until now was the shuffling of my jacket and the scraping of boxes. I've been shopping here for the past two years and never once have I heard any music among the chaos of cash registers, shoppers, shop assistants, stock boys and crying, inpatient children.

"How can I just let you walk away, let you leave without a trace .. " Phil Collins sings so clearly I have the urge to sing along.
There is nobody in the isle and so I park and take the opportunity of a stage (uhm food store isle between cheese, milk and frozen pizza) that feels empty and mine.
"Take a look at me now, there is just an empty space .. "
I dance and sing towards organic milk.
("Buy fat free!" Geoffrey said .. here you are! The blue ... )
"You coming back to me against all odds is the chance I'll take"

"How can you just walk away from me .... "
(no, not these, one is cracked!)
twirl again ...

Never thought a food store can be so intimate, so uplifting, so self-actualizing.
"Take a look at me noooowwww"
(Puffy jacket, lack of caffeine, showerless, stay-at-home mom with messy hair, no make-up .. )

By the middle of the song I sing aloud.
Not real loud, but I can certainly hear myself .. then I miss a beat and I hear another voice.
"You're the only ooonneeee"
A lady in her sixties with a walker turns the corner by the tortillas.
She sings even louder than me.
None of us is willing to budge their performance and so we sing together as we pass each other holding onto the eggs and the rail, smiling ear to ear.

"Take a look at me now"

I wish I could sing.
I am sure she does too!    



  1. This was sooooo fun to read.....really. At the end of the story I was laughing and hoped it would be longer. So descriptive, as if I was in the store myself and watched you...I even sang 'Take a look at me now...'. Very good xxoo