Yesterday I walked to Sainsbury’s for the last time in 2011. As I was halfway there I realized something — I didn’t really need to buy anything. I was just going out of habit. I could have turned around, but I pressed onward in the misty air in the pursuit of melon. Because lately, I’ve been obsessed with melon. In the US, or at least at regular non-overpriced grocery stores (I’m looking at you, Whole Foods), it seems you can only get three types of melon — watermelon, cantelope and honeydew. A few weeks ago I discovered galia melon, which Wikipedia tells me is a hybrid of cantelope and honeydew. It looks like a cantelope on the outside, is green like honeydew on the inside, but tastes like heaven — in other words, nothing like honeydew, which tastes like the rind of a cantelope. This melon is so good it was worth the long walk and potential encounter with Crabby McScooter’s handler.
Yes, apparently I’m not the only one who makes a habit of shopping every Monday morning. For the past few weeks I’ve encountered this old woman in a motorized scooter. She’s incredibly bossy, but I wouldn’t have noticed her too much if it weren’t for the man with her. Since she’s in a scooter and can’t reach much, he helps her do her shopping. And he talks. A lot. I encountered him for the first time in the frozen meat aisle a few weeks ago. We were both looking at chicken and the old lady was crabbing about something. “Can you believe this?” he joked. “I don’t even get paid for this!” I smiled and laughed and pushed my cart away. Then I saw him again the next week in the vegetable aisle. I assumed he was the lady’s husband, but I heard him refer to her as Mrs., like he was some type of employee of hers who apparently doesn’t get paid. The lady was once again complaining and he looked at me and said, “And I’m not even getting paid!” Once again I smiled and laughed and went onward. A few minutes later I overheard him in the butter aisle giving the same “I’m not getting paid” spiel to another shopper. I started wondering if he was somehow being paid by someone to say that he’s not getting paid, because he surely said it every chance he got. I ran into him again by the milk and he just kept talking. I don’t think he had an exact recipient of his words in mind, he just liked to hear himself speak. Last week I heard the crabby scooter lady’s voice an aisle over and decided I’d rather make a detour than have to smile and laugh to “I’m not getting paid,” once again. I thought for certain I was on the opposite side of the store, but I turned down the cereal aisle and there he was. “Can you believe this?” he said. “No,” I wanted to say. “I am trying to avoid you and you miraculously turned up on the other side of the store,” but instead I smiled and laughed. “The things I do,” he went on as Crabby McScooter rolled away. “I’m not even being paid!”
Once again Old Scooter McGee was at the store yesterday, and I waited for the familiar voice of her helper as I planned my escape route. But to my dismay, she was with a young woman, no more talkative gentleman friend.
I guess he got tired of not being paid.