I thought I had beat the Thanksgiving rush by one day but the Hy-Vee parking lot overflow onto State Line Road disillusioned me. Still, I found a cart and began to roll the route through Produce. A man in Poultry talking to his wife on his cell phone laughed when I made a joke about sending a vegetarian to buy meat. He helped me select some sausage for my son’s breakfast. It’s only been a few years since regular meat eaters graced my table but I’ve forgotten everything I knew back then.
The rounds ended in the gluten-free aisle. I don’t have celiac disease but my jangled nerves do better without gluten and white sugar so I try to limit my intake of both. The HealthMarket section of Hy-Vee draws me across the state line for any major shopping expedition. They have no-sugar this and no-palm-oil that. And they have Carol, a grey-haired chunky lady in her fifties who seems to work triple shifts and will climb on top of high shelves or crawl under low ones.
She was there again and we exchanged pleasantries. She bade me a happy holiday and I did likewise. Then I spied something rare: A gluten-free sample table staffed by the store’s nutritionist. I helped myself to a one-inch square piece of home-made gluten-free pumpkin pie. The tender gluten-free crust can be purchased in the frozen food section of the HealthMarket but the lady proudly announced that she’d made the filling at home, from scratch, by herself. I’m not gluten-free but a lot of my customers are, she confided. I’m trying to learn more to help them eat well.
We chatted for a few minutes. I complimented Carol and the nutritionist told me that she would tell Carol’s manager. She gave me a 10%-off coupon which would defray some of the high cost of eating clean. As I moved beyond her to the check-out station, she told me to have a good Thanksgiving, in a tone which suggested that she’d be calling me to make sure I had.
I drove home feeling as though I might have misjudged the people of Kansas.
It’s the twenty-second day of the thirty-fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.