The Wheelchair in Aisle 3

Lately, my housemate has done the cooking and shopping.  He’s enjoying the time around the house and the novelty of the tasks.  I don’t mind at all.  It fuels my Diva delusions where I’m surrounded by staff who see to my every need.  Actually, someone should be feeding me grapes and typing for me right now.  But sadly, no.  Oh how I suffer for my craft. 

A closer look will reveal this is a gilded cage and I pampered prisoner.  My housemate-turned-chef is a health nut.  He creates delectable portions of reasonable size from fresh, whole, healthy ingredients.  Every meal is healthy.  Deliciously so.  I do not deny the point.  I am eating well and barely lift a finger to help.  Sumptuous meals appear in front of me and dirty dishes are done by the shoe maker’s elves in their down time. 

But, if I want a dinner of say a jar of fudge sauce and a bottle of merlot (hypothetically of course).  I would (hypothetically) do it on a night he wasn’t home.   If I were to do such things…. hypothetically. 

I haven’t had a donut in weeks.  How I yearn for those days. Carb deprivation makes me cranky.  Who knew?

While he was out of town recently, he left a frig full of lean meats, fresh veggies already cleaned and chopped and healthy beverage choices.  He left me fully stocked.  With the warden hundreds of miles away.  my inner rebel demanded mac and cheese.  Not the homemade kind with whole wheat pasta and freshly grated artesian cheeses.  Nooooooooo.  Full-on hard-core fully-processed mac in a box; with cheese that oozes in a neon glop out of a foil bag.  Yum. 

I schemed a surreptitious trip to the store for said box of processed glory;  my clandestine feast well worth the trip.   Heady with the freedom of bad meal choices, I roll into the forbidden aisle, my arteries begging to be clogged. 

I pass selections of salt-laden, chemical bonanzas that are food in name only; Hamburger Helper, Velveeta, Rice-a-Roni… the heroin of healthy eating.  As though by divine decree, the clouds part and I spy the object of my desire.  I swear I heard a burst of celestial harps and the opening note of angelic voices rejoicing then the dastardly sound of the record needle scratch. 

The mac and cheese is Just. Out. Of. Reach.

I can brush the shelf with my finger but I cannot reach the box.  Oh sure, the nasty stuff with the envelope of fake cheese powder that needs to be reconstituted with trans-fatty margarine and hormone-laced milk is conveniently in front of me. Come on, the pasta’s not even shaped right.  A girl has to have standards and I have the highest standards when it comes to fake food. 

I stare at the box, willing it into the basket on my lap.  My powers of telekinesis are not what one would hope.  Perhaps this is a test of my willingness to fight for my food.  I must prove worthy.   Ok, I can figure this out.  I am, after all, a mammal of the highest order.  I’ll use a tool.  The offensive box of inferior fake mac will serve me after all.  I use it to try to sweep a box of glory from the shelf. 

My quarry proves wily after all.  Poking with the reacher box only pushes my prey to retreat into the dark shadows beyond me.  I’ve been outfoxed.  By a box.  Two of them actually.  Damned boxes.  The only revenge is to kill them and eat them. 

I roll to the customer service desk for reinforcements.  There’s a new guy at the desk.  “Hi, I need a box that’s over my head.  Can you have someone reach for me please?”  The new guy doesn’t speak wheelchair.  He’s wild-eyed and confused.  He avoids eye contact – could provoke the rogue wheeler into who knows what sort of behavior.  “Uhhhh.  Ummm.”  He looks behind himself for reinforcements.  He’s cornered; forced to face me alone.  “Wha wha …what?”  He’s gone pale.  Really.

I switch to English.  “Could you find someone to help me?  I can’t reach the items on one of the shelves.  The macaroni? It’s too high.” I pantomime reaching over my head just a little.  He gets it.  “Uhh.  OK.”  He steps back half a step and looks at me sideways.  This guy is really uncomfortable. 

“It’s in aisle 3” I offer helpfully.  “I’ll wait over there.  OK?”  He nods.  “Thank you!” I drawl brightly. 

I roll off.  The elusive cheesey mac will soon be mine.  The overhead squeals a bit as my new friend activates it.  We’ve all heard the announcements.  We fake them ourselves speaking into our muffled hands to mimic the sound.  “Clean up in dairy.” “Customer assistance in produce.”  They’re so ubiquitous we rarely notice them unless they’re unique in some way.

Like this one.

“GM, wheelchair needs assistance in aisle 3” then the requisite repeat.  “Help the wheelchair in aisle 3”

The wheelchair was just fine.  The woman in it, however, could use a hand.   In that moment, I was an object as artificial as my food.   The stocker shows up  “when he said ‘wheelchair’ I knew it was you. Sorry. We’ll work with him.” he snares the conquered box and places it in my basket.  I check out. 

As I finish at the register.  The new guy uses the microphone again.  “GM help the lady in Seasonal.   GM lady waiting in Seasonal.” 

At home, I prepared my long awaited meal.  There was an off taste.  It wasn’t as worth the trip as I had anticipated.   Damned box.


2 thoughts on “The Wheelchair in Aisle 3

  1. I love it when people pretend they don’t see you. Nice. And funny write up, thanks for sharing!

  2. OMG you are going to love this one! I am at my local Safeway with my daughter. Every worker in the place knows me. Knows my family. Knows my first and last name. Great, right? Not when you are using one of their scooters and run into a display, knocking boxes of banana holders all over the floor. Of course, Kylie, the daughter, runs off in embarrassment, leaving me to navigate backwards away from my mess, while several employees, whom know me, start cleaning up. It would have been wonderful had they not known me, but even now, I am reminded of that day when I check out with the “did you knock anything over today?” question followed by a cheshire cat grin…

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