Saturday, December 14, 2013


I ran to the nearby grocery store for just a couple of items, and got in a line of four people or so, directly behind an older lady, one of the sweetly-disheveled ones whom I think of as Doddery Dears.   She had on a little black tam to match her sweater, both garnished with generous helpings of face powder and white lint, as well as several gleaming pinkish hairs from her slightly-askew wig, and one of those purses-within-purses into which she was delving, with her smudged little eyeglasses sorta side-saddle.  She just felt as if she NEEDED me, needed Everybody, to guide and aid her progress.

(Quite different, you understand, from my own three-score-and-eleven, and my fashionable get-up of red hoodie over shorts and T-shirt, with baggy gray socks and ratty  clogs.   I rationalized that I’d get DRESSED if I were doing the groceries for the week; for two things, you just grab the keys and dash.   At least this time, I didn’t have leaves and sticks in my hair).  (Or a broom over my shoulder).

I like to have my money already in my hand before they ring up my items, so as to delay folks behind me as little as possible, and to be visible to the fewest in my own slipshod state---not to mention those CAMERAS which seem to be everywhere.   I have no doubt whatsoever that my own progress through life must be the source of levity in shadowy viewing-rooms throughout security ranks everywhere.

I saw from her several dips into her purse that she must be getting her own card or check or something ready.    She dug around all through the first person’s transaction, finding a crumpled bill, then bit by bit of change.   Then she put the little bar divider on the counter, set her bananas and Jello and eggs and bread down, and went back to mining her purse.

Down onto the counter amongst the groceries went her keys, her wallet, her glasses case, assorted little gews and gaws, a mint or two, several bobby pins (I have yet to figure out how digging three bobby pins from the recesses improves your chances at finding your money, but then I’m a pocket-person, anyway).   On and on went the excavation, through the next person, and then it was her turn.   The cashier was quick, the food was bagged, and still Our Lady of the Linty Sweater pursued her digging and sorting with the zeal of a Leakey.

She was up to her elbows in that purse---I expected her to do one of those Ernie Kovacs bits and pull out a horse, or at least an umbrella, and was perfectly prepared to grab her around the waist if she toppled in. That thing looked like one of those late-night Ron Popeil offers---the ones that the sides expand to hold your scarf, and then if you’re called away, you can just plump out some more pockets and crevices and go to Europe without excess fees.   And if you order right now, you get six steak knives and a foggy watch?   You know---one of those.

Now, I’ve got up to the cashier without my debit card, having left it in another pocket.   I’ve completely forgotten having broken that last twenty I was carrying, and had to accept a bit of change from the kind man behind me to eke out my $5.29 purchase when I thought I had plenty. 

I even had a lovely thing to happen once, long years ago at the register when I hadn’t noticed I’d written the last blank check in my checkbook.


 I said, “Oh, gosh!  I don’t have a check; I’ll have to run to the car and get some.”

 An eightyish gentleman, long known to me from his coming into our office, apparently heard only the first part, and being, as he was, dependent on his own check’s arrival every month for his livelihood, said, “I’ll pay fer it, Hon, til your check comes.”

Sorry---I DO take mind leaps to memories of old times.

And I just kept thinking, Older lady.  Bananas. Bread.  It's not like it was a National Enquirer.   Anyway, I thought I could see a five and a one in the hand hanging onto the purse as she foraged, and so I asked, “How much else do you need?   Let me help.”

“I need a dollar and twelve cents,” she said.

I handed it over, the cashier finished up, I moved forward. 

Dear Lady picked up her bags, turned back and said, “Thank you SO much, Honey---you’re a lifesaver.  All I’ve got is hundreds---we’re going to Maui in January!”


Kathy said...

Oh my! I had to chuckle on that one. You really can't tell a book by its cover.

Patsy said...

The only way to deal with that is laughter. (Old Bat)
I was wondering what does "Strength to your sword Arm" Mean? If I may ask.

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Good morning Rachel, HA! Thanks for the laugh this morning. I am sitting in my recliner listening to Bing sing Christmas music. Twelve on this CD. Drinking my coffee and sad because I don't have time to visit as much as I want to with all the busyness of the holiday. I am almost finished with the decorating. Just a little tweaking. Sigh. Church this morning is the Canttada and I love that music so much.

Your story captured me completely and I didn't expect the punch line. You gotta love the humor in this.

I see I missed a post or maybe more. I'm off to see what I missed. I do adore your comments to me and I hate to miss anything you post.

Happy Christmas holiday to you and yours my sweet friend.
Love, Jeanne

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

OOPS, Cantata. Silly me!!!

Southern Lady said...

That's just priceless, Rachel ... I read it to Norm as we were driving down the interstate and your punch line had both of us laughing out loud. People are so funny, aren't they!