When I was a kid, my dad would sometimes take me to the grocery store during the wee hours of the morning. Like most kids, I preferred sleeping, but I could be coaxed out of bed with the promise of a stack of chocolate chip pancakes at a local restaurant. (As if the chocolate weren’t enough, they were always buried in whipped cream. Yum!)
I didn’t understand why we had to go so early, but now that I’m an adult I understand the pain that is the weekend grocery shopping trip. But at 6 in the morning, you can dance down the aisles. One of the most important things I learned during these trips was how to bag groceries. We didn’t go to some fancy schmancy store with baggers, so we had to gather everything ourselves.
In Texas, I do shop at a fancy schmancy store. Or at least, H-E-B is fancy when compared to the stores of my childhood. Not only do they bag my groceries, but they also offer to walk them out to the parking lot and load them in the car for me. I never accept this offer because I’m still young and spry, and if I let other people do all the work for me, I will very quickly lose that spryness.
Yesterday, as I arrived at my car with my cart, one of the H-E-B helpers was on his way back into the store. He was 80 years old if he was a day, and he walked with a bit of a shuffle, probably the result of some old injury that’s now causing arthritis. He insisted on loading my groceries for me.
“You, go pamper yourself,” he said. “Wait in the car while I do this for you.”
Are you kidding me? I’m going to sit in the car while this senior citizen — the guy who really needs pampering — does this work for me? Is this what America has come to? The bratty 20-somethings sit in their plush cars (OK, my car isn’t plush, but I’m imagining here) while the aching seniors do the work.
I continued putting my groceries into the car, though I couldn’t get the senior to stop helping. But I think I at least avoided earning a one-way ticket to hell.