On Mondays, I try to get out of the house by around 9:30 in the morning, leaving the girls settled with their work so that I can run around town doing whatever boring, fidgety errands have to be done, and going to the grocery.
I shop at ALDI here in our city because I think it is one of the best grocery stores, like, EVER. Do you know that they have albacore tuna for something like $1.19 a can? And bran flakes for $1.69 a box? Did you know that they sell whole wheat pasta in several different beguiling shapes, as well as a very nice selection of flash-frozen fish filets? I adore ALDI.
The one drawback of the store, however, is that you do have to bag your own groceries. If you're not familiar with ALDI, I'll tell you that you can either buy grocery bags (paper or plastic) there for small change, gather empty boxes from around the store and load your food items into those, or bring your own bags. I do the third option, bringing those fabric grocery bags you can buy just about anywhere nowadays.
Today, however, when I pushed my grocery cart over to the bagging counter, I was dismayed to find that I only had two other fabric bags stuffed inside my largest bag. I was supposed to have four other bags, but remembered too late that we'd taken two of them out to carry our library books in, and those two bags were, in fact, sitting at home on the table in the laundry room, with books.
I had too many groceries for my three bags and I really didn't want to traipse back through the store hunting for boxes, so imagine my joy and happiness at turning around and seeing a cardboard box of the perfect size for my canned goods sitting right there on the counter! Sometimes people get too many boxes for their needs and they leave their extras on the counter for others to use; I was really glad to see that box.
So there I stood, busily loading my cans into the box in the obsessive way I have, trying to balance it perfectly with two cream of mushroom soup cans at kitty-corner ends, combined with two cans of beans at the other kitty-corner ends and a large can of tomato juice in the center, when all of a sudden, someone right behind me screeched, "YOU'VE GOT MY BOX!"
I think I probably jumped about three feet, which is pretty darn good considering that my usual standing jump is about two inches. I'm very sad that there were no talent scouts and/or sports agents in there looking for baby wipes or fresh carrots, because if there were? There would be a new line of Nike or Adidas or Puma sports shoes coming out with a silhouetted image of me -- pumpkin-shaped -- leaping into the air emblazoned somewhere near the ankle.
As soon as I returned from orbit, I looked behind me and saw a little elderly lady, about three feet tall, standing there and looking as if she wanted to beat the living daylights out of me with her cane.
"I....I'm so sorry," I stammered, starting to unload my carefully-balanced cans. "I thought somebody put it over there as an extra."
"Somebody DID put it over there," she said, glaring. "It was me. I put that box there."
"Here," I said, handing it to her. "You can have it back. As I said, I just thought it was an extra."
"It wasn't an extra. It was my only box." She grabbed the box from me, spun on the heel of her tiny, faux-leather Harriet Carter shoe and marched over to a section of the counter far removed from me and my cans, shooting me menacing glances from time to time as if I was going to try to grab her box of oatmeal and make a break for the exit.
With difficulty, I restrained my urge to sass her. I just went to confession last Thursday and it was hard enough to explain the time before that when I sassed the lady at the library. Father kept gently saying things about pridefulness and lack of humility and the deplorable need to have the last word that frankly stung just a little, thank you. I'm just saying that the sacrament of reconciliation is a very good thing and if you're a Catholic, you're lucky to have access to it because of this word: accountability.
Anyway, I sadly took my groceries out and put them in the van, wheeling my cart back up to the corral at the side of the store. I usually leave my quarter in the cart for the next person who comes up, just as an act of goodwill, remembering the many times when I've suddenly realized that I need a quarter for a cart and all I have is my debit card and a lip gloss in my pocket. And do you know what?
Do you know what?
When I was back in the van ready to pull out, that grouchy old dame...I mean, elderly lady, came out of the store after me, pushing her own cart with the box of groceries laid proudly in the basket like a newborn baby, and she got her own quarter back from her cart AND THEN SHE TOOK THE QUARTER OUT OF THE CART I'D JUST LEFT.
Oh, do you think it wasn't hard not to jump out of the van and run over there and shout "THAT'S MY QUARTER!" while brandishing my own cane in the air?
Don't be silly. That wasn't hard at all. What kind of person do you think I am?
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