"I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand." - Chinese proverb

Saturday, April 19, 2014


The other day my father and I went grocery shopping in his pickup truck.  He likes to have company because he hasn't been back in the driver's seat very long due to a shoulder injury which is, in fact, still somewhat painful.  As is typical when you go into the grocery store because you "need a few things" we came out with 7 bags.  Most were his own cloth or vinyl bags, but a few were plastic store bags.  Dad bought two jars of gravy, chicken and beef.  These went into a plastic bag.  Together.

So, we go outside and we're loading the bags from the cart into the back of the truck.  We have no trouble until Dad hands me the gravy bag and lets go of it just before I can grasp it. (I think.  Could be I lost my grip, just to be fair.)  Of course the two jars hit the ground and broke, glass and goo flying everywhere, to our great dismay.  Dad said "I knew it! I knew it!" Then he jumped into the truck because he gets too nervous in these situations and isn't sure what to do next.

I bent to pick up the glass when a woman in scrubs, who had just parked her car, ran over and yelled "Don't touch that, you'll cut yourself! Let me do it! Carol to the rescue!" Well, startled, I let her do it.  "Have you got another bag?" she asked.  Another woman came up to the truck and said "Here's a bag."  She and Carol picked up the glass (and several cans of Fancy Feast and a package of hot dogs covered in gravy) and put it in the bag, and Carol said "I'm going in to get you two new jars of gravy.  They should never pack them so heavy."

So I got in the truck and yelled (Dad can't hear for crap) that she was going into the store to get two new jars.  I felt a little guilty.  "Who is she?" Dad asked.  "I don't know," I said.  "Oh! I think I know," he said, "She's that lady who does acupuncture."  I thought a second.  "Where did you have acupuncture?" I asked.  "No, no - needles! You know, she takes your blood!" he answered.  (In a bit of a tone of disgust with me, I think.)

A few minutes later Carol came out of the store, came over, and told us they were bringing out the new gravy and some cat food too.  "Do I know you?" Dad asked; "I'm Bob Blair."  "Carol Smith," she said.  "You work at the Shoreline Clinic?" he asked her.  "Used to, now I work at Quest," she said.  "Come and see me sometime!"  (Requiring a lab slip no doubt.)  I hugged her, thanked her for her random act of kindness (I actually used that expression) and she said "Just pay it forward."  I said "We sure will."  We always do try to be kind ourselves, but goodness, she went the extra mile I guess. She even had a paper towel with her and sopped up some of the mess.  I'd have said Hell, let the next rain get it.

Anyway a young girl did come out a minute later with a new bag and two jars of gravy and new cans of cat food too.  (I'm not sure why there was a fuss about the cat food, they didn't split open or anything.  But they were awfully nice to replace them.)  "I wasn't sure what kind of cat food you bought but I tried to match the colors on the labels," she said.  See, even young girls can't read small print, hah. 

We got back to Dad's and brought the bags inside to unpack.  "Where's that gravy?" I asked.  I was sure I had taken the new bag (very, very carefully) and put it down by my feet in the cab.  "Must still be in the truck," I said.  I went out to look.  Nope, wasn't in there.  Just for the hell of it I pulled the lever for the seat, bent it forward and slid it up.  There was, in fact, a plastic grocery bag back there.  I checked; it had two cans of soup, a small bottle of Sprite, and a hard roll that wasn't in its own bag and I figured must have escaped (Dad had bought hard rolls that day).

So in I went and unloaded the bag.  Right around that time I decided to dig further into one of Dad's big green bags and there, packed carefully underneath everything, was the bag with the gravy.  "Here it is," I said.  Dad was looking at the stuff I'd found in the truck.  "You bought soup?" he said.  "I thought you bought soup," I said.  "This was in the back of the seats."  "Well, I didn't buy it," Dad said.  "Do you think Bob [my brother] bought it when he was with you the other day and forgot it?" I wondered.  "I doubt that," he said. 

We checked the hard roll and it was fresh.  Dad threw it out to the birds.  I put the soup on a shelf.  I noticed one was chicken and dumplings.  Years ago I ate my mother's chicken and dumplings, which was really good, then threw up because I was coming down with a stomach bug and haven't been able to bring myself to eat chicken and dumplings again. So if I were to buy soup, it wouldn't be chicken and dumplings.

Dad just stuck the Sprite in the refrigerator.  To the best of my knowledge it hasn't been spoken of since.

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