checking out

The day before we left for our annual camping trip in Sleeping Bear Dunes last week, a friend stopped by with her son.  “Go do your grocery shopping,”  she instructed.  “Leave the kids.”  And so I did.  I DID.  I needed to outfit the freezers with house-sitter options and I needed 9 days of cooler-camping food.  My list was long.  My friend is an angel.

I ended up with a cart overflowing with 2 weeks worth of goods.  In fact, when the checker re-organized my cart into bags, I had to find a second cart.  So, there’s me… standing there with no kids and 2 full grocery carts and a long line of people behind me waiting for their turn.  I’m trying to load the 47 bags and pay and sign and hit all the right buttons and just leave, for pete’s sake, when the man behind me taps me on the shoulder.


He is old… pushing 75 on a good day.  He’s wearing overalls and a ball cap and a serious twinkle in his eye.  His wife is tapping her foot impatiently while fanning herself with her STAR magazine.

“I’m sorry,” I apologize. “I’m trying to get…”

“Ma’am?” he asks again,  brushing aside my apology. “Ma’am, I’m going to help you push your carts out to your car.  Pam? Pam… Imma walk this young lady out, ok?”

Pam, still fanning herself, doesn’t even look my way.  She just waves her other hand and dismisses him.  I don’t really like Pam, I decide.

I’ve had 3 seconds to process it all when I hear myself saying, “Well, I can’t take you home, ok? You won’t fit with all these groceries.  But if you want to help me, I sure would appreciate the company.”

“Well, I’d sure like to.  I would.  I’ll push as far as I can.”  And so this sweet old farmer- a stranger- and I hike out to my van on a 100°+ day like we’ve known each other for ages.  It takes a very, very long time.

He doesn’t say much.  Just smiles and wobbles behind me.  I could be his grand-daughter.  I’d like to be his grand-daughter.  Once we reach the van, he grabs my hands, kisses them, and tells me to have a good day.  And then he wobbles back in to Meijer.

I would have thought it was all a dream, really… if I hadn’t run into him (and Pam) again this Monday in the produce section.  All three kids were in-tow and we were loud.  Abby is done with this trip.  Ry wants to open a box of cereal.  And Gus… Gus has stolen a kiwi and is about to take a bite when Sweet Old Farmer jumps (?) out from behind the display and scares him right out of his saggy little britches.  I think the Sweet Old Farmer might fall down from laughing so hard.  He holds his stomach when he laughs.  I think he’s perfect.

I smiled a big smile and said, “Hello! Hi! How are you?”  But there was no recognition in his eyes.

“He doesn’t remember, Honey,” Pam chimed in from behind the green peppers, snapping a plastic produce bag open.  “He doesn’t remember, but I do.  Thank you for letting him help.  And, thank you for letting him play with your kids.”

She waved a quick goodbye and pulled her husband by the shirt-sleeve.  Onward.  We wrangled our chaos over to the checkout and paid, kiwi and all.  But I can’t stop thinking about that Sweet Old Farmer.

And, Pam.

I kind of like Pam, I decide.

What IS it with this Meijer?  Remember Rylie and the fish?  And the lady in the parking lot?  I’m beginning to wonder if the Greenville Meijer is prone to Wonder? Magic always seems to happen there.  Now, disaster and wailing happen there, too… but maybe, just maybe,

There’s more Amazing around us than we think.



About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

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