The Grocery Nuisance
The man was irritating, Clara thought as she put canvas bags of groceries into the cart she kept in her trunk. When she was thinking about buying a condo at this location, she had asked if it had a nice-sized pantry. “The pantry is huge, Mrs. Geraghty,” the real estate lady had said. “It’s right across the street. It’s called Kroger. The pantry inside your unit is roomy, too.” She bought Unit 15 and moved in toward the end of January.
Living almost directly across from the grocery store was handy, but the somewhat flamboyant man who always seemed to be there was beginning to chip away at the luster of convenience. She wondered why people didn’t complain about him.
As she finished packing the cart, unlocked the front door, and wheeled the cart onto the elevator, she tried to determine why the man irritated her. She finally decided he was just unnecessarily…forward. On her first shopping trip after settling in, she recalled perusing the coffee and cereal aisle when another woman in the aisle called to her husband across the top of the shelves. “Hon, do we need coffee?” There was no answer. She called again. “Hon?”
“Yes, Hon?” came a man’s voice from the adjacent aisle. The woman looked a bit puzzled, then asked again, “Do we need coffee?”
“Don’t have a clue.”
“You’re the one who drinks it.”
The woman suddenly left her cart, hurried to the end of the aisle, and turned into the adjacent one.
“You’re not my husband!”
“I know, ma’am. I wasn’t that lucky. But that’s why I don’t know if you need coffee. Obviously, I’m not there to drink it. Would you like me to look for your husband?”
“No, that’s all right,” the woman said. “But…thanks for the offer.” When the woman returned, she was smiling. Well, that’s strange, Clara thought. I would have told the man he was out of line. How nice of her to be tolerant.
As Clara continued to unpack the groceries, she frowned at seeing a twenty-ounce sack of noodles—she intended to buy an eight-ounce bag. A similar thing happened the previous trip. She came home with a twenty-one-ounce box of cereal instead of the twelve-ounce box that would have been plenty. Old habit, she reflected. Still buying for two.
She wished she were still buying for two. This oneness was strange, even irritating. Even when they meant to, people usually didn’t help. She dreaded hearing still another person say, “It’s just going to take time, Clara. You’ll get there.” And if that person added a line of bad poetry about clouds lifting and the sun shining brightly, it would be difficult to refrain from smacking them.