Last night I went to town and stopped at a grocery store. There was a chill in the air as I walked from the car to the entrance. A few other people were in the first aisle with me. Most people were shopping alone — I was, too.
I took my list out of my wallet. My goal: to buy all the food on the list without going to another store.
Crackers, chips. Oops, I deviated from my list. Must be hungry.
Back to the list: Two gallons of milk. Yogurt.
I turned the corner with my cart.
Beans, beans, beans. Three kinds of canned beans.
I said “Hi” to one person as I passed. Nodded my head at another shopper.
Bag of potatoes. That slows my driving down a bit. Lettuce, check. Loaf of bread and bananas, check.
Go over there for frozen juice concentrate. Done.
Now where’s the cream of mushroom soup and the non-stick spray?
I had walked the entire store and could not find those items along the way.
This store is small — how could I miss them? I know we’ve bought them here before.
Oh. My wife usually picks up cream soups and cooking spray. She’s not here to help me, and I don’t want to ask anyone, I thought.
So I drove my fairly full cart back through the aisles to the entrance, and started over. My eyes slowly combed over the shelves, but my feet walked fast.
There’s the baking items—where’s the spray?
Two aisles over, I spotted cream of potato soup. No other cream soups nearby. Huh. Did they run out?
By now I had my evening exercise and wanted to be done shopping. It seemed I had walked through the whole store more than enough.
I simply went to the open cash register and placed all my items on the belt. “Hi,” I said to the cashier.
“Did you find everything OK?”
I had a quick decision to make. Do I give up my pride and say no? Or do I just make up something really quick, maybe utter a grunt, and just be done?
“Actually, I could not find the cream of mushroom soup or non-stick spray. Do you carry these?”
“We sure do! Follow me. I’ll show you where they are.”
I was shocked. She closed down the terminal and off we went. First, to the baking goods.
“Here are the cooking sprays. We have three kinds. Which one would you like?”
“I think we’ve used this color before,” as I read the label: canola. Perfect.
Then we went to an obscure place in the opposite corner of the store. Not really obscure; I just never look at what’s on those particular shelves.
“Here is cream of mushroom. One is regular, the other is ‘fit and healthy.’ It’s supposed to be better for you.”
“Less salt, I’m sure,” I said. Then I pointed to a middle aisle, “I saw the cream of potato over there, but I never knew where the rest of the cream soups sat.”
We walked back to the cash register and completed the transaction. As she gave me my change, I said, “Thank you so much for helping me find those items.”
“No problem, that’s what we’re here for.”
The cashier said one more line, but I don’t recall what it was. I just couldn’t believe the level of service I just received, all because I spoke up and said what I needed.
Sometimes I just have to admit I can’t do everything on my own, even a task as simple as buying food.
I wrote this for my wife.
When I read it out loud to her, she responded:
“I know right where they are!”
This short story originally written March 22, 2013
©2013, 2014 by Ryan Eidson. All rights reserved.