Ten Items or Less #SOL17

FullSizeRenderGrocery Store Encounter- A Real Slice

March 11, 2017

Thursday afternoon I had a meeting at Town Hall.  After the meeting I headed to the grocery store, early for me, to collect some things for our staff breakfast the next day.  I called my older son in Chicago on the way and was chatting about the weather (55 degrees),  his job, and the fact that I was going to make a casserole.  All seemed right as rain.  

When I pulled into the parking space at the store,  I noticed that the car immediately in front of me had its trunk standing open.  It was a small trunk.  I began talking to Patrick about whether I should close the trunk as I realized that no one was in the car.   As we were discussing this,  an elderly woman with no groceries in hand approached the car, opened the driver’s door slowly and got in.  Again,  I wondered,  should I tell her the trunk is open?  How will she feel if I approach the car?  Before I could get out,  she drove off,  trunk flapping in the air.

I quickly picked up the ingredients for the casserole and enter a checkout line where it appeared that the elderly woman in front of me did not have too many items left.  After I emptied the basket,  I realized that she was having a heated conversation with the clerk waving the sale circular in his general direction and pointing at him with a red face and a raised voice.  She was telling him that all of these items were on sale for 79 cents.   The very young clerk was calming explaining over and over that she had gotten ten items for 79 cents and the others would be full price.  She was saying, aren’t they mix and match, why do I have to get ten kidney beans?  There aren’t even ten kidney beans on the shelf.  She asked him call over the manager who also tried to explain calmly.  Then it happened.  The manager made eye contact with me and began to move the woman’s groceries to another check out lane.  The woman slowly turned toward me and said,  “Don’t you agree with me?”  Yikes,  what to say?  Ma’am,  can I just pay for your groceries and we’ll be done with it?      Why don’t you buy only ten?   Really,  please just listen to what these folks are telling you.   


I didn’t answer at first and she waved the circular in my face.  This just isn’t right, she said.  Tell them,  she said.  In the end,  I said, I wasn’t really listening…  I’m sure they will work it all out for you… in my calmest teacher voice.  She huffed past me to the other lane.  
I thought about both of them on my way home, and this morning, and just now.  Wishing them calm and peace and understanding.  Offering up a silent apology that I didn’t do more.  



I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.

Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.









10 thoughts on “Ten Items or Less #SOL17

  1. Harrowing day at the market! I like how slices give writers a chance to replay or reflect on a day, a moment, etc. Even unresolved and slightly unsettled, as in this instance, you write to great effect.

  2. Being elderly myself I appreciate your quandary. It’s hard to know when exactly to respond in these situations. Your reflections show that you care about people and how could you not. You’re a teacher after all.

  3. Your slice makes me miss my mother’s community. For almost three years, I ended my day with joining her community. So many emotions when I think about them. I think you listened, worried, cared and respected them. It doesn’t always feel good, but sometimes it is all you can do. Thank you for sharing –your writing really brought us into the moment.

  4. These are the kinds of situations that pull my anxiety in. Yikes! I totally felt like I was right next to you in the grocery store line. I think it is hard to write about uncomfortable situations. This was a real snapshot.

  5. Love how you use your encounters at the grocery store to write a slice. You probably still wish you’d told the lady about the open trunk. Hard to know how to respond. Someone on a bike shouted at me recently that I didn’t have my lights on. So glad he took the time to tell me.

  6. Your slice gave me a few chuckles. I’m left wondering about the lady with her trunk up…how could she not notice it???? Your response to the second lady was perfect. I never know what to do in situations like those either!

  7. I like this honest retelling of what happens so often. It just happens sometimes so quickly, and we are left to wonder what if anything to do. I think it is astute of you to notice these chance encounters that didn’t have a satisfactory ending, but your thinking and considering them and taking time to write about them on this slice of life is important. It’s only then that your thoughts can help you do something different next time: “I thought about both of them on my way home, and this morning, and just now. Wishing them calm and peace and understanding. Offering up a silent apology that I didn’t do more.”

    Thank you for sharing these snippets from your life,

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