The other day I had more fun in the grocery store than should be allowed. Every third person turned out to be someone whom I knew. My old friend John Martin still works as the specialty manager there, and he followed me around chatting about the neighborhood where I still live and from which he moved. A few little kids ran races in the produce aisle while their mother shopped at the deli counter. The guy who stocks the apples held one out for me like someone from a nursery rhyme.
I went from the grocery store to the Brookside CVS at which I rarely shop these days. I’ve transferred all my prescriptions to a store south of here, one with a drive-through and a flat-surface parking lot. But I had a quick item to buy and a spot miraculously appeared right at the door. I disembarked with only a backwards glance at the spot where I fell and broke my hand in 2013.
But I thought about it. I remembered the SUV which nearly ran me down. It screeched to a halt. I still hear the sound, which reverberated as the driver leaped from the vehicle and ran over to me. His passengers started directing traffic and he knelt on the asphalt. I’m a doctor, he said. Talk to me, tell me where you’re hurt.
I shook the memories from my mind and nipped into the drugstore. A young girl at the counter called, “Can I help you find something?” I stood in a daze for a moment, remembering the place where I used to shop every week. No, I’m good, I replied, and made a beeline to the greeting card section.
While I stood at the counter waiting to pay, the same girl lifted something from a high shelf for another shopper. She hastened over to the register. Sorry for the wait, ma’am, she said. I laughed and told her that I had all day and not to fret.
A few minutes later, I drove home and unloaded the bags from the car onto the porch. I parked behind the house, thinking about the common practice of grocery shopping in America. I live a solitary life for the most part. Whole days pass without a spoken word. My phone lies silent on the desk for hours, sometimes a whole day. But when I go to the grocery store, so many little things make me smile.
I’m trying to find a way to bottle the essence of such moments to keep in the cupboard for rainy afternoons when I don’t feel like getting out and the grimness of the world overwhelms me.
It’s the eighteenth day of thirty-seventh month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.