Friday, December 26, 2008

Ms Pacman

The Mahket parking lot was crowded so I pulled into the fire lane by the front door to offload the Weebles. There's a ramp so it's easier for Ma to push her walker instead of trying to negotiate the sidewalk. I set the emergency flashers and ran around in my Chinese fire drill fashion to help Ma out of the car.

A few people stopped with their carriages to let Ma negotiate the ramp. Except one man. Another weeble not as old as my weebles, but a weeble.

"Perfect! She stops right in front of the ramp."

Now in two and nearly a half years of making this trip, we've never had a problem with making the maneuver. If people were annoyed, they never said anything within my earshot.

"She's crippled!" I said as I unfolded Ma's walker in front her. "Where do you think I should stop, Idiot." Oh I just love the holiday time of year. Brings out the best in people.

There were other words I wanted to say. Stronger words. Angry and more colorful words., but I had to remind myself Ma was with me. She would die of embarrassment.

The man slunk off and that was enough.

Ma kept apologizing to the people waiting to go down the ramp.

"Take your time. They can wait." I gave the group a menacing glare daring someone to make a remark.

With Ma safely toddling to the front door and Dad bringing a scooter for her, I moved the car and instantly found a handicap spot. A reward for restraining my tongue.

When I entered the store, Ma was just settling herself on the scooter. Dad was trying to figure out how to stow the walker. I took it from him, folded it, and sprinted out the door to stash the walker in the car. The last part of the fire drill maneuver.

When I returned, Ma was trying to make her way by the last check out aisle. A woman with a young child in the carriage was just about to load her groceries on the conveyer belt.

"Excuse, me. Could you let my mother by?"

The woman made way and Ma roared by.

"Thank you!" I cheerily called over my shoulder as I raced to keep up with Ma. She was heading for the produce department.

Dad had given her a list which she had retrieved from her pockabook. The list. The list makes me laugh. Two and almost a half years and she has picked the items she needs. The same items. Each and every visit to the Mahket. A package of Bosc pears with six pears, not five. A bag of McIntosh apples. Not the other kind even though Dad likes the other kind better. And not one glance at the list.

She had stopped by the bananas. I picked up a hand with three large bananas in it.

"Get three more."

I found another hand with three large bananas and proceeded to rape the package to remove the three large ones in that package. From the first bag, I removed the three smaller and added the second grouping of three. I'm always uncomfortable with the procedure but Ma is quite satisfied. Takes pick your own to a new level.

"Get me a pound of beans."

Ma scoots down the aisle.

"And pick them one at a time," I mouth. Everything looks like it has been left out a day too long. I know there are people who swear by this store. They love the freshness of the produce and the prices can't be beat. I can't see it.

I picked the beans as best I could while thinking frozen beans are just as good as fresh. I headed to the other end of the produce department to weigh the bag. A huge produce department and only one scale. I'm shy the necessary beans to make a pound.

As I picked the rest of the beans, I became aware of conversation at the other end of the aisle.

"This is soft. You don't really want this one. This one isn't much better."

As I turned, I saw Ma with another woman who is offering broccoli candidates to Ma for inspection.

"I wanted broccoli," said Ma as I came alongside.

"I can see that, and if you wait half a minute, I will help you. I'm using all my arms and all my legs and dancing as fast as I can."

I thanked the woman for her help. She giggled as she went about her business.

We turned our attention to the broccoli. First this one. Limp. That one. Grey.

"These are all rotted. Everything is rotted," I shouted at Ma so she could hear.

A few aisles over was the produce manager and he was glaring at me. Guess he heard my remark. I gave him a nod and smile. I hoped it looked like have a nice day.

We finished with produce, zipped down the frozen food aisle and headed to meat. All in record time. Out of curiosity, I glanced at the list. We had everything except oil. The olive oil is a sore spot with me. See, that item comes from the aisles and should be Dad's territory as the gallon can will take up three quarters of the basket on Ma's scooter.

We stopped at the deli. Ma wanted Italian roast beef and provolone cheese. I took a ticket. My number was up next. I felt as if I had won one of Auntie Rose's lotteries.

Ma had decided she wanted some mozzarella cheese like I buy. Technically I don't buy. Himself buys shredded mozzarella in a package. Kraft, Sargento, store brand whatever looks good to him.

"That's at the other end of the dairy." And we headed off picking up a box of bread crumbs along the way.

"I'll get the oil and then we're done with our list except for one item and I need Dad to translate for me."
"Make sure it's Italian olive oil!" I mouthed as Ma shouted after me. I've often wondered if there's a difference between the cans of oil labeled Greek olive oil and olive oil. And if there is supposed to be a difference why aren't the other cans labeled Italian olive oil?

Ma parked along side a bin with snack items on special.

"Stay here. I'll go find Dad."

Holding the oil can like a small infant, I walk towards produce took a peek down each aisle. The store is not that large and through our entire expedition, I haven't caught sight of Dad. Not once. As I made my way across the front of the store, I felt like Ms. Pacman hunting the power pill through the maze. Beep. Beep. Beep.

"Get some Italian bread!" Ma shouted after me.

I raised my hand to acknowledge the command.

I finally found Dad looking at boxes of salt. The store brand and national brand are the same price. Three boxes for $5.

Dad was frowning.

"What's the matter?" I asked him.

"I don't know which one to get. They're both the same price. But which is better?"

I wondered how long he had been in the aisle contemplating the merits of store brand versus national brand.

I took a quick glance.

"Get the national brand. It's iodized and the store brand isn't."

Dad gave me a questioning look.

"We need iodine in our diet and salt is about the only way to get it."

I quickly retrieved three boxes of salt from the bottom shelf and we put them in his carriage. I noted there wasn't much in his carriage for the amount of time we had spent in the grocery store.

"Ma's done with her list except for this item. I'm not sure what you mean by it." I held the list so he could read his writing.

Macaroni cheese.

That made me worry. I know they are living social security check to check and are pinching pennies.

"You're not eating macaroni and cheese from the blue boxes?

He laughed. "No. Macaroni cheese. You know what you sprinkle on macaroni and soup?"

"You mean grated cheese?"

"Yeah. In the shaker."

Guess Romano cheese got expensive. Ma used to buy a great hunk of the hard cheese and grate it herself.

Ms Pacman raced for the macaroni cheese.

When I got back, they were done and found an open check out register. Usually I leave them while I take a few minutes in the car to decompress. As I was leaving, I turned and watched the tableau.

Dad was carefully placing one item at a time on the conveyer. The woman at the cash register was slowly running the item across the scanner and the bag man was becoming one with the bag and slowly place the item in the bag.

"No wonder it takes a half an hour to get through the check out line!" I said and began grabbing several items at a time from Dad's carriage and juggling them onto the conveyer. The cashier was still slow, but now she had more to be slow with. The bagger had four bags ready in the carriage. I pushed Dad's empty carriage to the bagger and grabbed the four bagger.

"I'll run this out to the car and come back for the rest."

Hopefully, by the time I got back the cashier and the bagman would have finally reached Nirvana.


Erica Vetsch said...

mahket basket posts are my fave.

Nutterone said...

Italian olive oil... Got it. Gonna have to go check what's in the cupboard!