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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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The shopping cart blues (03/18/2007)
By Janet Lewis Burns

I'm proud of today's senior husbands! They scan meat counters for the best cuts, tap melons, read labels on cans and boxes, and wing it without shopping lists!

Are you a grape taster? Pat gets all embarrassed when he catches me plucking off a grape right out in the open. Well, I'm going to buy some, if they really don't have seeds and aren't sour. I've been skunked before!

I've had to scoot with the loot, as I remembered at the checkout that I had left my purse in the van. People get suspicious when they spot you trying to return merchandise to their rightful places, assuming that because you're beyond middle age you don't know whether you're coming or going.

I've seen people do it - they circle the same aisle for more free samples of pizza, over and over again, until he, or she, or the entire family start to look very familiar. Don't try this in your small hometown grocery; they might think you only came in for the handout, since they never see you otherwise.

Have you played the game of cat and mouse with someone you know would talk your ear off if she or he saw you? You'd like to chat, but"

Have you pretended not to know your own kid or grandchild when he knocks over the Little Debbie display, or starts an avalanche of soup cans all over the aisle? It can happen in the best of families.

Minnesota folks are for the most part approachable and congenial in stores. Any shopping cart rage is usually brought on by eccentrics visiting from out of state.

One exchange I had just before Christmas still makes me smile. Pondering over table napkins for the Holiday meal, I must have had my perplexed, impatient face on. I'm obsessed to find napkins to match the blue design on my Corelle dishes. (My daughter's advice plays like a broken record: "Mother why don't you get yourself a decent set of China?")

Anyway, this short, gray-haired gal, wheeling a full cart, paused when she saw me sighing and pining with indecision. She raised her sparkling eyes, glasses halfway down her nose, and said, "Are we feeling hohoho and happy and gay!" I couldn't help but lighten up, "No, and I'm not feeling merry and bright either." We both laughed. I needed that!

Standing in the center of a busy aisle reuniting with someone can be frowned upon by the cheeriest of people. If you look up and see piercing eyes staring you down from both directions, just say, "I'm so sorry. Let's have a group hug!" People will swing around you in a hurry!

Store aisle tantrums are so childish, but we have our moments. It went like this one hectic day: I couldn't find the bags of Quaker Rice Snacks because they're not with the other snacks and there were no clerks in sight, an impatient husband had his motor running out front, we were due at an appointment with our accountant, the right front wheel of the shopping cart was skidding sideways, and the Preparation H was at the opposite end of the store.

At the checkout, a young man with hair in his eyes and a big catsup stain on his dingy white shirt had the audacity to ask me if I wanted paper or plastic! Haven't I been through enough!

I finally burst outside with yellow plastic dangling from both arms. The pickup is parked in a nearby space. Pat is talking and joking with an old buddy. When he finally noticed me sitting beside him, he mentioned that the appointment with the accountant had been canceled.

"You didn't have to rush." (Men are so unpredictable!) "Why are you so upset?" (He can read me like a book.)

"They were out of Preparation H," I said in a somber voice. We both laughed. I needed that!

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. She can be reached at patandjanburns@earthlink.net 


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