Finding Friends at the Kroger Store

I had a truly blessed time at the grocery store today, and although it has nothing to do with shooting, I’m going to write about it, because it brightened my day.

It began as I walked through the parking lot from my car and made friends with a wonderful older black gentleman as we were both almost dive-bombed by a bird.  Referring to the bird, my new friend said, “Now he’s got the whole sky (gesturing broadly) and here he wants to take the land from us, too.”

We chuckled about that and as we reached the door, he told me he was just there to get his milk and chocolate macadamia nut cookies and go home and eat them.  I said, well, I was there to get groceries and had to go home and cook, to which he stopped in his tracks, took off his baseball cap, bowed low, and said, “I tip my hat to you, ma’am.  I’m a bachelor.”  I knew I should have taken him home right then.

He went to get his cookies and I headed for the produce department, but soon found him next to me again as he said, “You know what milk looks like, but I’m going to show you these cookies so you can get some if you want them.”  We both cracked up about that, and I jokingly replied, “Now you know those are not good for you.”   My friend put his hand to his ear and said, “What?  What?  I seem to have just lost my hearing.”

Both of us belly laughed about that, and then he was on his way to the dairy department.  I didn’t see him again, but will watch for him when I’m at the store in the future, and if I find him, he’s not getting away without an invitation to dinner, or at least divulging the location of his home so that I can drop off some homemade food from time to time.

So over the next 30 minutes or so, it was just me and the grocery aisles as I located all the necessary ingredients for a few meals I have planned.  Then I ended up in the meat department and, in particular, in the clearance section (what I like to call the “used meat” section).  There was a tiny little white lady looking through the discounted cuts, so I waited patiently for my turn.   She noticed me, though, and demanded, “Come over here!  You can look at the meat, too.”

I assured her I could wait, that I was in no hurry, after which she sidled up real close and said, “Honey, I’m only over here so I can get away from my husband.  He drives me ‘f-ing’ crazy,” (only she said the entire word) and she just cracked up.  I was shocked at the language coming out of this little lady, but I had to laugh, too, she was just too cute.

She told me she is 80 years old and is “usually the one dressed as a clown here at the store.”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her I had never personally seen a clown in Kroger before.  Then she nudged me and pointed out a baby sleeping in a nearby cart and we both commented on how precious the baby was.

About that time, my little friend’s husband walked up, so I told them both to have a great day and I headed on down the aisle.  I didn’t get far, though, before my lady friend ran up to me and shoved two little suckers in my hand and clasped my hands together with hers for a moment while smiling up at me, then ran back over to her husband.  She was so sweet and precious, even with the “sailor” language, and I’ve seen people much younger than 80 with more lines in their face and with eyes not as bright.  She had the most clear and sparkling, seafoam-green eyes I’ve ever seen.  I hope to see her again, as well, and will be watching for the happy little clown with the bright green eyes.

That shopping trip reminded me, though, of how much I love being around people who are filled with joy, who are being themselves and can laugh at themselves, and who don’t really seem to have a care in the world.  My two new friends probably couldn’t have been any different from each other, except for the fact that they were both getting up in age.  Maybe that was the reason they were even able to slow down enough to notice someone else and to strike up a conversation with me.  They were not on a mission to get their groceries in record time and get back home at break-neck speed, they didn’t seem to care enough to put on airs and pretend to be someone they are not, and they were not afraid to talk to a perfect stranger.

Both of them brightened my day and probably had no clue that they had done that, and I hope to see them again soon.  But I also need to learn the lesson they taught me today, that I should never be in too much of a hurry to notice other people and speak to them in such a way that they will tell someone else about the crazy lady they met at the store today, who made them laugh.  Maybe I should stock up on suckers, too.

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