Just what I needed, here in the summer doldrums of Hillmomba, maintaining an even keel, recuperating from my unfortunate hospitalization, with nothing interesting to write about...
My creative well has been primed. My even keel has been thrown off-KEELter. All it took was a trip to Save-A-Lot at noontime. I got a late start. It's never a good idea to hit town at the same time 50 churches let out. Because those church people are all headed for fast food, or headed for the grocery store. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom's destinations.
No sooner was I in the door than they caught up to me. All I had done was grabbed a cart and pushed it three cart-wheel rotations to the banana table. But there they were on my heels: Creeper and her Spawn. I grabbed the greenest bananas I could find and set them in my cart. Moved on to the potatoes. They looked sucky. Save-A-Lot never has good potatoes, unless I'm in the mood for some Yukon Rose. But I was not. I needed three bakers for tonight's steak-grilling. Only two were invited into my cart, because, perhaps you did not catch it the first time, the potatoes looked sucky. Besides, Creeper and Spawn were closing in.
Same thing happened at the bagged lettuce and the tomatoes and the strawberries. "Mom! Mom! Tomatoes, Mom! Get tomatoes! Five! It says five on the list! Get five tomatoes! Yes! The list says five!" I don't blame Spawn, really. He was a thin blondish lad around nine years old. He was just being a kid. Not running willy-nilly through the store, but helping his mom shop. Very vocally. And sometimes getting too close for the liking of Hillmomban citizens and their personal space bubble. I don't blame the kid. Kids are not adults, and don't act like adults. Perhaps Spawn was medicated. Or needed to be medicated. Maybe he was on the spectrum and needed some coping skills to help him move toward the mainstream. He was not grabbing things and being a brat. He was helping his mom shop.
No matter where I stopped, or where I veered off in an attempt to lose them, Creeper and Spawn stuck to me like Farmer H on Auction Meat. No aisle was too random or remote. You'd think they had tossed a grappling hook at my cart in an effort to have me pull them along my path. By the time I reached the back meat aisle, they were still directly behind me. I couldn't move forward because a guy was stopped at the hamburger, and I couldn't go back to look at pork steaks because Creeper and Spawn were on my heels like a new-shoe blister. When that guy moseyed along, I got out of that trap and looped back around the frozen fish stand-alone open-topped bin, and got back in line at the meat counter. Right behind Creeper. I saw that she had put Spawn in the cart-seat, and parked him just ahead between the frozen fish and the sausage-biscuit glass case. His legs dangled almost to the floor. He was deftly pulling himself back in her direction with his right hand on the metal-topped glass rail of the frozen fish bin, and his left hand waving that list. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Don't forget the chips! Chips are on the list!"
Creeper tired of the chopped meat, and looped around behind me (the better to creep, my dear, because it's really hard to creep when you're in front of somebody who's watching you) to look at the chicken. I forged ahead. Spawn saw me coming his way. He pulled his cart over against the fish bin and watched me pass, wide-eyed and open-mouthed. I do command a bit of awe with children. No doubt due to my teaching persona that never quite fades. No sooner was I past Spawn than he started his cry again. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"
I was able to make a break for it. I snagged some Salt and Pepper Chips for The Pony. Then some buns and bread. And some individual packets of Soft Batch Cookies that The Pony had requested. I got in line and started putting my stuff on the conveyor. Let the record show that three checkers were open. Let the record also show that Creeper got behind ME in line. Not her cart. Creeper. We could have rubbed elbows. I was behind my own cart, putting things out from the kid-seat. I still had quite a bit to go. BUT CREEPER WAS PUTTING HER OWN ITEMS ON THE BELT. Without even a divider. Her stuff started to pass under my left elbow. Creeper stuck out her arm, nearly jostling me, to pull it back. I used that little bit of space to put out my bananas and strawberries and tomatoes and potatoes. First in the cart, last out of the cart. "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!"
The checker, a man, gave Creeper a hard look. She leaned over and grabbed the divider while I was running my debit card through the machine. Kind of late. All my stuff was accounted for now. As Creeper crept closer, perhaps to take a gawk at my PIN as I punched it in...I got a whiff of Creeper breath.
It was obvious that gal had come to the store not from church, but directly from her job at a brewery, after falling into a vat and remaining trapped for the first seven hours of her shift.
I think, perhaps, Spawn's behavior was a function of his upbringing. I don't know which of them I would have preferred to drive home.