When I try to enter the store through the “entrance only” automatic doors, a horde of exiting customers nearly tramples me going the wrong way out as I go the right way in.
I pick a shopping cart with a wobbly wheel, not on purpose, but because it is close and doesn’t have a leftover sanitizing paper in the bowl of it.
Fresh lettuce, fresh mushrooms, fresh tiny tomatoes. I attempt to grab a couple of gala apples, but too many people urge me away from produce.
Each turn in the store is like peering around the corner of a death star; I expect a collision with someone angry and far bigger than I.
I am not angry or even desperate for supplies, though my wheat bread has gone stale and parts of my leaf lettuce molder in the refrigerator. Still, it seems a good idea to stock up on a few things before the damned snow, the malevolent snow, the symptom of Mother Nature’s angry, alcoholic bender (tequila again, just like last year, but this year, she eats the worm at the bottom of each bottle), arrives again overnight. Another 3 to 5 inches. Or is it 5 to 8? Somewhere I read maybe up to 15 inches, and resigned dread fills my bones. A Texan stranded in cold, white Ohio.
I grab Picante sauce to go with the avocado I hope is still good, a bag of low-fat chips, a cheap bottle of wine I should have consumed before I braved the store when I had lunch with friends to celebrate Laura’s birthday.
I can’t get to the roasted red peppers or olives because of the couple caravanning with two carts packed with enough food to get them through till June.
I lose patience in the yogurt section. I know yogurt is good for the gut, but my gut will have to wait until the big thaw.
The shoppers all seem either in too much of a hurry or disinclined to move at all. They park their carts crossways in the aisles as if they're reality TV stars with cameras trailing them and don’t need to deal with the rest of us.
Because I’m not fond of crowds, even though I grow fatter and fatter, I feel small and old and anxious to the point where I nearly crash into a smiling, bearded man who has the right of way (is there such a thing in a Walmart?).
“Whoa. You’re in a hurry!” he says, and waves me by.
“Thank you! And yes, I’m so sorry. I just have to get out here.”
In the express lane, it takes the 106-year-old man in front of me three days to count out his cash and to tuck his change into his wallet. I think he’s trying to stall death.
The cashier glances at my face, and I see such kindness in her cheeks. I smile and shrug. I’m near the end, no longer in a hurry.
After she checks me out, and I snag my receipt, I call over my shoulder, “Good luck! Good luck!”
“Oh, thank you!” she says.
I try to go the right way out, but a horde of new shoppers nearly tramples me as they pour the wrong way in.
“Lordy, lordy, lordy,” I say, aloud, my wobbly wheel flicking slush.