I went to the grocery store three times today, the first by myself, the second with Belle to get ingredients for the dinner Addie was making, and the third another solo run to grab the stuff I'd forgotten (cream cheese and tortilla chips, in case you're wondering).
While waiting in line yet again, I managed to drop my keys. Twice. The first time, I bent down and picked them up (this is not uncommon ... I am the world's biggest klutz and drop everything). The second time, though, the old man in front of me bent and snagged them.
"Here you go, miss," he said, handing them back to me. "Maybe I'll share some of my luck with you."
"Thanks, I'll probably need it," I said, laughing. He waved as he headed toward the door.
And then the cashier scanned my cream cheese and Hannaford tortilla chips, I paid, she thanked me kindly and wished me a good day, I wished her the same, and that was that.
Until I got outside, where I saw the little old man, my little old man, wrangling with a shopping cart (odd, since he'd bought a couple of cans of tuna or something) at the front of the parking lot. I contemplated walking up to him, taking the cart, telling him I'd bring it back, no problem, but then I remembered my grandfather, who was an incredibly proud man and would have been insulting at someone insinuating that he couldn't handle getting a grocery cart back to the front of the store, so I held my tongue.
Still, I stopped and watched him for a long moment, struggling with his cane but trying desperately, you could tell, to do the right thing so some poor schlep that gets paid minimum wage wouldn't have to do it. It sort of made me tear up, not gonna lie.
As I walked behind the first car in the row, it started backing up. Quickly. Nobody tells you how fast these things happen, but I was running (like, all-out sprinting) to get past this stupid, clueless fool before he could hit me (he drove one of those huge old boat-like Cadillacs, and it seemed to go on forever). I didn't have time to yell, "Stop!"
I made a gesture to him that was not a wave, but I was wasting my time; if he'd been so oblivious that he'd somehow missed almost mowing me down with his stupid boat-mobile, I doubt he'd have picked up on a little bird flickage.
It didn't occur to me until I was back in my car that I could have been badly injured (I was wearing flip flops and shorts, not running shoes), and I just started shaking. But then I had an even bigger realization, and that made me burst out crying.
If I had walked up to the old man who'd so kindly picked up my keys and taken the shopping cart from him, said, "I'll bring it back to the front, no problem", he would have been behind that heedless Cadillac ... and I'm pretty sure he would have been hit. The cane was obviously not for show, and he moved slowly and with great effort (but with an absolutely beautiful smile on his face).
As he passed by me crying in my car, he waved, and then he headed for the carriage corral, where he started wheeling shopping carts one by one to the front of the grocery store.
It was a surreal experience in every sense of the word ...