Memories and Musings: Reflections on a shopping cart

Published 10:22 pm Monday, July 29, 2019

By Gene Gallelli

Four of us were lined up outside the grocery store like horses in the starting gates at the Kentucky Derby, staring at the pelting rain splash atop the cars waiting in the parking lot. 

I heard the familiar swish of automatic doors and watched a young man carrying a plastic bag of groceries unflinchingly enter the downpour and “walk” to his car. I couldn’t help but wonder what color the sky must be in his world. Then I thought: maybe he’s just being childlike — something we should never stop being — and enjoying walking in the rain the way he probably did as a child. 

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The bespectacled, gray-haired lady next to me — her cart bulging with bags of groceries — shook her head and said, “Where did this come from?” I didn’t have a good response, so I said something stupid and insignificant, like, “Yeh! It’s really something!” then suggested she pull her cart back a little to get the bags in front out of the rain. 

The young man dangling a filled plastic bag in one hand and a six-pack of a preferred beverage in the other, mumbled words that I hoped the lady with the cart didn’t hear.  Then, spewing expletives he dashed to his waiting SUV, got in, and eventually drove off, probably inventing several new four-letter words and catchy phrases and anxious, I’m certain, to get to his six-pack of preferred beverages. 

An extended-cab truck pulled in front of us to pick up our older male companion carrying two containers of deli food; he quickly jumped in the front passenger seat. Instead of driving off, the truck pulled into a parking space, probably so they could eat their lunches. Actually, I thought, dining in the rain with good music on the radio wouldn’t be so bad. 

Only yours truly and the bespectacled lady with the shopping cart remained, still staring at the splashes, still wishing we had umbrellas, and still anxious to get home with the goods. Fortunately, I didn’t have anything perishable or frozen to worry about; not so with my lady friend with the bulging cart. 

Then, after uttering a halfhearted, “Well, I guess I won’t melt!” I, unlike the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, raced with my vitals to my waiting chariot, fumbled for the key fob, unlocked the door, put the groceries in the back and jumped, drenched, into the driver’s seat. The car rumbled alive and we — me and the groceries — headed for home, passing the lady with the shopping cart who was still patiently waiting for the rain to stop.  

There hadn’t been any plan for doing a study on human nature that day, but driving home in the downpour I summarized what startling reality was gained from the experience; which was: if you’ve gone to the grocery store, filled your cart with everything on your mile-long list, and it starts to pour, you’re probably going to get wet!



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