On Thursday morning, April 27, 2017, I rose around 8:00 a.m. and decided to grocery-shop early, rather than wait until after exercising at around 2:30 – 4:00 p.m. at Gold’s Gym.
I shop at Harris-Teeter (HT) in Aberdeen, N.C., on Thursdays to get the Thursday “seniors day” five percent discount offered to folk over 60.
So, “I washed my face and combed my hair and stumbled down the stairs to meet the day” (words from “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” a song by Kris Kristofferson).
Actually, I ate a bowl of cereal and “pilled up” (with legal prescription drugs, of course) after “washing up” and combing my hair. We have no stairs in our ranch-style house, but I identify with Kristofferson’s phrase: “stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.” I battle arthritis and neuropathy.
The HT parking lot was almost empty.
“I’m getting ahead of the madding crowd,” I thought, musing about times I shopped late on Thursdays and found “marked down” items had been scarfed up by old folk like me.
“Those selfish seniors,” I’ve thought, when I’ve seen empty shelves where bargain foods had rested. Old people can turn on each other when “savings” are involved.
I scurried, making good time inside the store. Near the milk, I took out my typed list of stuff Carol and I purchase. We don’t buy certain things every week, but, during my weekly grocery gathering, I unfold and peruse my listing of over 60 products we attempt to “keep in stock” at home.
I hadn’t forgotten anything we needed. I pocketed my list and headed to checkout.
“Oh, no,” I thought, when only two checkout registers were open and customers stood three-deep at each station. “No matter when you come here, they’re going to adjust the number of checkout stations to the number of people in the store.”
Waiting in line, I looked behind me and saw a gray-haired man I’d noticed at Gold’s Gym. We’d never met. Gym folk tend to go about their gym business and ignore each other. I remembered, however, that this man had smiled when we’d passed each other in the gym.
“Hi, I’ve seen you at Gold’s Gym,” I said.
“Yes, I haven’t been there enough, lately,” he said.
I learned that “John” (I’ll call him that) is 71, a year older than I am, and that he teaches college science courses.
“I retired from Gulistan Carpet as it closed,” I told him. “I have some arthritis and neuropathy, so I don’t do the treadmill, like I see you do at the gym. You’re doing well to be still teaching at your age.”
“Yes, they don’t want me to quit,” he said.
A large, decorated sheet cake lay in his shopping cart, and he held a bouquet of red roses.
“I’m organizing an honor society meeting at school,” John said. “It’s harder to get college kids together than it is high school kids, I think.”
By this time, my cashier had begun checking my groceries. John and I continued to talk. John had only given me his first name, though I had given him my full name. “Only giving a first name” is perhaps a way to seem “intimate” but retain some anonymity in “the information age.”
As my cashier continued working, a clerk from the store’s information counter motioned John to her station. He had only two items, so she hoped to help him process quicker.
John moved past me to the information counter. He and I finished our transactions at the same time.
“I’m sorry,” I said, as I pushed my shopping cart near to his. “I should have let you in front of me at checkout. I wasn’t thinking.”
“Oh, that’s OK,” he said, smiling.
“Good to meet you,” I said.
“You, too,” he said.
I was glad I’d shopped early and crossed John’s path. When I see him at the gym, I'll feel closer to him.
Perhaps I’ll get in the habit of shopping early on “seniors day” at HT. Maybe next Thursday, I’ll rise with the sun and “wash my face and comb my hair and stumble down the stairs to meet the day.”