In the Parking Lot

I never know what I’m going to see in the parking lot at the local grocery store.

In the village of Cooperstown, there is one — yes, only one — grocery store.

I go there often. My father’s refrigerator is small, and we go through perishables fairly quickly. I started keeping a chart of how often I go to the grocery because I felt like I was going every day. It turns out that out of 50 days, I only went 36 times.

I never know what I’m going to see there. Once, I saw Mrs. Claus pushing a shopping cart up the parking lot hill to her car.

Yesterday, I stood behind an elderly man at the check-out. He paid for his groceries and handed his change back to the cashier.

“I think I owe you this,” he said. She shook her head in protest and smiled at him.

As he headed for the door, he turned and said to her, “See you tomorrow.”

Another person who goes to the store nearly every day.

As soon as he was out of sight, she put the loose change he had just given her into the container at the checkout for the this month’s charity — I think it’s Muscular Dystrophy.

“I tell my boyfriend that I have a sugar-daddy,” she said to me. “He gives me quarters every day.”

We both laughed, and she told me how he comes in every day and goes through her line.

“Once he brought me a poem,” she said. “It was strange and I didn’t understand it.”

Poetry can be like that.

I thought about my father and the way he focuses on young women who smile and are friendly. With him, I get irritated about the whole thing. It’s a fixation that bothers me, but I know that it shouldn’t.

The man at the grocery store didn’t bother me in the least. I could see how lonely he was. And old. And slightly confused.

I paid for my groceries and headed out to the parking lot. The man was standing in the middle of it, a look of consternation on his face.

“I can’t find my car,” he said, and I could hear the panic in his voice.

“What kind of car do you have?” I asked him.

“It’s a blue Ford, but I can’t find it anywhere,” he said, one hand on his cart, the other fumbling with his keys.

“Well, let’s see,” I said, and I began to look around.

With minimal effort, I found a blue Taurus and pointed to it. “Is that your car?” I asked.

A huge smile broke out on his face. “Yes! Yes, that’s it,” he said. “Thank you so much.”

I watched him push his little cart to the car and was grateful I could help.

As I drove home, I hoped he could remember where he left his house.

I’ll have to ask the cashier about it when I see her today.

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7 thoughts on “In the Parking Lot

  1. Small towns have a lot of charms. I hope that old man’s family is watching out for him. A slower brain makes for slower reactions and dangerous driving.

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