Life in the grocery line

I stopped at the Giant in New Cumberland on the way home the other night to get a couple things. Got in line behind a couple buying ground beef and hamburger buns, and a few other items.

Then the wife remembers something else, and she takes off, back into the bowels of the store.

The guy stands there, watching the customer ahead of him go through the paying ritual. Then the clerk starts running his stuff through the checkout. He doesn’t have a lot. He looks around for his wife. He can’t see her.

Then he looks at me.

It’s late, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I want to get home, but beyond that, no big deal. I use the universal signal assigned to those whose spouses tend to wander off at crucial times: I shrug. Been there.

Cha-ching. Cha-ching, item after item goes by the price scanner.

He’s still looking, hoping, waiting. This is a big guy in a Red Land jacket, taller than me, and he can see over most people’s heads. But as far as he can see, she’s not coming anytime soon.

Just as the clerk picks up the last can of whatever, he sees her. Far away.

He looks at me as if to say, “See? No problem.”

The clerk is done and looking at him. So is the woman in line behind me.

At this point, I know, he wants to pay for his stuff and then get back in line with whatever she’s bringing. But I sense he doesn’t want to have to answer the rebuke-phrased-as-a-question: “Why didn’t you just wait for me?”

Now he’s waving at her to get a move on. She doesn’t.

A minute later, she’s there, at our line, but seems reluctant to commit. I move aside so she can get by. The husband is now motioning pointedly. She just looks at him.

Finally, he says something like, “Come on!”

She rolls her eyes, lets out a big sigh and puts her forgotten item on the counter, then walks past him.

Under his breath, he says, “I’ll pay for that.”


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paddydear@epix.net or pcarroll@patriot-news.com


In culinary school and getting ready to trade the writing life for the cooking life. Or not. Might do both. At the moment I'm a feature writer for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. My name is Pat Carroll.

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