On Saturday afternoon, I grabbed my coupons and headed to the grocery store. I walked in the front door, staring at the table the Girl Scouts had set up outside to sell cookies, and trying to figure out exactly how many boxes of Tagalongs I could buy with the cash in my wallet.
When I realized that the mother standing at the table with the Girl Scouts saw me drooling at the cookies, I came to and turned the corner to grab a shopping cart. And that’s when I saw her:
A woman in a long fur coat, standing in the middle of the shopping cart aisle, searching through her purse, blocking every other customer from getting a cart. When she was done fishing through her bag, she turned and looked at me.
“Well, what are the odds?!” she beamed, a smile spread wide across her face. “What a way to spend a Saturday, eh? Grocery shopping? Such a crowd here!”
“Hi Audrey,” I said. I grabbed a cart and tried to scoot out of the way to make room for the other patrons. Audrey, of course, seemed oblivious to the amount of space she was taking up.
“What are you buying today?” she asked.
“Oh, groceries for the week,” I said. “You?”
“Just a few things. I’ve already been here once today.”
“Really? Did you forget something?”
“Well, yes, and I like to get out and walk around.”
After absorbing a few evil stares from women trying to maneuver their carts around Audrey and me, I ushered Audrey out of the way and in front of a big cereal display.
“Now what does this say?” she asked, pointing at the sign. “Read it. What does it say?”
“It says if you buy four boxes of cereal and two gallons of milk, you get each for $1.00,” I explained.
“And this counts for Frosted Flakes?” she said.
“Looks like it,” I said.
“Well if only I hadn’t bought them at the grocery store down the road this morning!”
“You were at that grocery store, too? How many stores have you–?”
“So, what are you making for dinner this week? I love Frosted Flakes. I bought myself a box earlier. Ok, well I know you want to enjoy your Saturday, so I won’t keep you. Have fun shopping.”
“Thanks, Audrey,” I said, turning to walk away. I walked about ten steps and was just about to turn down the aisle when I heard Audrey behind me.
“How funny that we’re here at the same time!” she said. “Can I buy you a cup of coffee in the cafe over there?”
“Oh, Audrey, that’s so sweet! But I’m ok. Thank you for offering.”
“Ok, ok,” she said. “I’ll leave you alone. I know you want to get out of here. It’s a mad house!”
Audrey turned around as I continued down the aisle. I walked around and scratched things off of my list. Bread, hummus, tortillas, a can of black beans. But when I started up the cereal aisle, I heard her again.
“What’s this turkey?” Audrey asked.
“Brown sugar,” the teenaged boy behind the deli counter answered.
“And this turkey?”
“Well, I’ll take that one,” Audrey declared.
“Here you go, ma’am,” the boy said, presumably handing the package of lunchmeat to her.
“What a gentleman!” she said. “Where’s your manager? I’m telling your manager how wonderful you are!” Audrey’s voice trailed off as I continued down another aisle.
As I approached the milk cooler, I saw her again.
She was standing in front of the juice, her cart blocking the entire aisle, talking on her cell phone. She moved down to look at the eggs and was too involved in her phone conversation to notice that she was pushing a large yellow “Caution: Wet Floor” sign down the aisle with her cart.
She turned and looked at me, motioning for me to come over to her.
“You’ll never guess who’s here today!” she exclaimed to the person on the other line. “No, no. It’s Jillian! That gorgeous blonde from the office. Yes! What are the odds?”
I smiled as she winked at me.
“Hold on! Hold on!” she said into the phone. “Jillian, look at this. These organic eggs are two for $5.00! They’re good. Do you know how I know they’re good? They’re the brown ones.”
“Oh wait! I have to go. I’ll call you. Ok bye. Hi Jerry! Jerry! Hi!” she snapped her phone shut and waved to a grocery store employee. “Jillian, this is Jerry. He’s the store manager.”
“Hi Audrey,” Jerry said. “Nice to meet you,” he nodded at me.
“So, what’s with the eggs?” Audrey asked. I snuck my cart behind Jerry and waved to Audrey as I continued on with my shopping. I could hear her talking about the “fancy brown eggs” all the way to the register, and I laughed to myself as I wondered how many times she had cornered Jerry before.
Once I had paid, I headed for the door, cash in hand to buy some Tagalongs.