The Shopping Cart

I stole an old lady’s shopping cart today. I didn’t plan too. It just worked out that way.

My accidental entry into a life of crime started ordinarily enough. . .

“Do you need anything from the store?” I asked. “We’re out of diet-coke. I’m going to get some. I’ll pick up some bread and cat litter too. Anything you’d like me to add to the list?”

“Buttermilk,” she said in an uncharacteristically insistent tone, “A small carton of buttermilk. And if you come home without it you’ll be taking me out to dinner.”

I sometimes forget an item or two when I go shopping.

I like going out to dinner, but I didn’t want to go today. I was reading “How to Breathe Underwater” a collection of short stories by Julie Orringer and wanted to get back to it.

When I got to the store, I headed straight for the dairy department and put the buttermilk, a small carton, in my cart.

Next, I headed for the bakery department. Everyone’s favorite place. And today the scene of the crime. When I got there, it was gridlock and no traffic cops in sight. There were carts parked everywhere.

I parked my cart walked over and picked up a couple of loaves of bread. I went to the next aisle and picked up some cat litter. I skipped the paper products and frozen food sections and turned into the beverage aisle and picked up the diet-coke.

As I left the aisle, an old lady, a loaf of bread tucked under her arm, came around the corner without her cart.

She walked straight to the nearest store employee, poked him in the arm, and said, “Someone stole my cart.”

“What?” he said.

“Are you deaf,” she said. “Someone stole my shopping cart, what are you going to do about it?”

“I’ll help you find it,” he said. “But we might have to get you a new one. Someone might have accidentally taken it.”

“What kind of an asshole steals an old lady’s cart?” she said, and poked him again.

I started laughing. Yes, what kind of asshole would steal an old lady’s cart, I thought.

I finished up in the produce department adding Brussels sprouts, broccoli, oranges and bananas to my shopping cart and headed for the checkout.

When I got home I put the bag of groceries on the kitchen table and headed back to my favorite chair and to my book.

A minute later my wife said, “Where’s the buttermilk?”

“It’s in the bag,” I said. “Are you blind?”

“No it’s not,” she said “and since when did you start buying Metamucil?”

“Metamucil, I didn’t buy any Metamucil,” I said.

“Then what’s this?” she said. “And come in here and show the blind lady the buttermilk.”

I reluctantly got up and went into the kitchen.

I looked in the bag. There was no buttermilk. There was however a canister of Orange Smooth Texture Sugar Free Metamucil, 220 teaspoon doses.

“You’ll never believe what happened,” I said.

“You can tell me at the restaurant,” she said.

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