A long time ago in a food mart far far away… Actually, it was about a month ago and the grocery was only about five blocks up the road. But that doesn’t sound cool at all. The thing is I was involved in an extremely tragic incident and I wanted to give it the seriousness it deserves. I might have said; While the small town was asleep an evil was lurking… Then again it happened in the middle of the afternoon and the only ones napping were the very old or very young. Also, I live in a medium sized city, so even the small-town thing would be a lie. I guess there’s nothing to do but tell the story and hope the suspense builds naturally. So here goes.
I didn’t go to the market that day to fall in love… and I didn’t so, pretty much it was a boring trip. You see, I was doing my weekly shopping and I stupidly took the first cart in the line. Big mistake! Is it just me or is there a conspiracy about shopping carts? I mean it just seems that the first one, of any line, either has a broken wheel which will go thump, thump, thump all through the store. Or it will be somehow stuck to the second cart and takes the effort of nine guys, two large dogs and an army surplus truck to get them apart. Also, if we all know these issues exist, why is there usually a young couple trying to separate the stupid things? Maybe it’s a contest or something.
Okay, I got that stuff off my chest. Now to recap; I went to the store but was in a hurry, so I foolishly took the first cart in the line. You guessed it, the cart was broken. This particular cart had a bent wheel which would not spin. Consequently, the cart was always pulling to the right. I had to compensate by setting the thing a little to the left so it would go reasonably straight down the aisles. Yes, it ticked me off, but as any guy will tell you, the effort it takes to live with a stupid problem is never as great as the embarrassment of admitting defeat and going back to get another one. (See Man Rules,version 2018, Rule 46, subsection G)
So, there I was, walking through the store, fighting with the shopping cart, and grumbling about how I always get the short end of the stick. (That’s another Man Rule.) I made it through the produce section without incident, and due to my alertness successfully navigated three full grocery aisles. It was not until frozen foods that there was a problem. (DUN DUN DAAAAAAAA)
To be honest, I have to accept some of the blame. Early success made me over confident and I wasn’t thinking about potential upcoming hazards. You see, in my local grocery the frozen food aisle is extra wide so the store personnel can put cardboard displays in the middle of it. Why do they do that? Most aisles are so narrow you can’t get past people. Then when they get one that’s comfortable they turn it into an obstacle course with flimsy cardboard displays usually top-heavy with crackers, chips, or something equally fragile. If you should happen to touch one of these pseudo-land-mines, not only will it fall over, but some psychic will announce over the PA system, “Herb, clean-up on aisle three.” Who is Herb? I don’t know. I don’t even want to know. What I do know is there will be a grandiose mess, and I will be the cause. I won’t admit it, mind you. But I will slink silently away in shame. Now, where was I? Oh yes, frozen foods.
I entered the area confidently. I passed ice cream and desserts with no trouble whatsoever. The cart was giving me a bit of trouble and my right arm was starting to get sore from over compensating. Taking this into account, I managed my way around the tortilla chips display with the salsa underneath. Glass jars are sometimes thrown in to make it more interesting for store employees, watching the monitors and betting on which customers will cause calamity.
Anyway, She entered the row at the opposite end. She looked confident and poised, even joking with the young toddler in the stupid seat shopping carts have. Stopping at the chicken patties, She opened the freezer and reached to take something out. The open door clouded over and for a moment. She was gone. We did not make eye contact. Frankly, I was almost past fish sticks, and was thinking about the other errands I had to run that day.
Then from the corner of my eye, She was suddenly there again. I made an abrupt cart adjustment and held control for a few seconds. It was at that moment the stuck wheel freed itself. In an instant my compensation became unnecessary and I lost control. The cart lurched toward She. Wide-eyed from surprise, I over-compensated in the opposite direction. The cart flew around and struck a display of soup cans and oyster crackers, which not only fell over but flew just enough to land halfway in She’s cart. The whole thing took about half a second, but the echo of falling cans, and crunching crackers went on for what had to be ten years. Then there was silence. I looked up. She was shooting fire from her eyes, and the loving face had changed into some kind of demon spawn.
Let me take a moment here. Amongst the single people I know, there is this fantasy. They have it in their heads that they will one day be in a store, bump carts with a beautiful member of the opposite sex, fall immediately into a deliriously passionate love affair, be married within a week, and live happily ever after. To those who believe this I have but one thing to say, “Get a life! Your make-believe world is a freakin’ ton of manure.” I apologize to those who do not carry this dream, but I felt this must be said. Now back to our program, already in progress.
If looks could kill I would have died, twice. Suffice to say She was not at all pleased. The toddler was though. It seems a storm of falling crackers is appealing to young children. Well, either way She tossed the broken cardboard aside, said a few phrases which shouldn’t be repeated, (Mostly because I didn’t understand them), snapped a few pictures on her phone, and walked on. I, in turn, took on a look which clearly screamed, “It wasn’t me!!” I moved slowly away, acting as if it was totally normal for the frozen-food aisle to be covered with cans and crackers.
The whole episode came to an end when a moment later the PA inevitably announced, “Herb, clean-up on aisle three.” Thankfully, I was far enough away by then, to maintain my anonymity.
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