Tag Archives: old lady

I’m feeling blessed

I’m feeling so blessed lately. It’s more than a feeling, actually, I am blessed. Blessed be my name. I think it’s from last week, I was at the grocery store, this lady and I were heading toward the cashier at the same time and, even though I knew exactly how it was going to play out, her with that little granny-cart filled to the brim with produce, I smiled and waved her on through. Even though it would’ve taken me maybe a fifth of the time have just my dozen or so items scanned through, I’d have paid with my credit card, swipe, done, see ya.


But it was even worse than I could have imagined, everything she had in that cart, there was some sort of a corresponding coupon, somewhere in her hand, if only she could just match them up one by one. If she wasn’t such a sweet looking old lady, I might have started tapping my feet impatiently, like you know how people do it, right? They fold their arms and they tap one foot on the ground really aggressively, a very quick, constant tapping, and they look right at you.

And this whole process just kept snowballing, it was more and more unbearable to watch, the item got scanned, “Wait, wait, wait, I have a coupon.” And the cashier would be like, “I know. I know you have a coupon. You gave it to me already.” And the old lady would be like, “Really? Well, why does that only say twenty-seven cents saved? I though my coupon was for thirty-two cents.” And they’d have to go back and double check that, yes, unfortunately it was only a twenty-seven cents savings, all the while the lady was just shaking her head, unable to process why the grocery gods had forsaken her, those five extra cents.

But she was really old, maybe she reminded me of my grandmother. She kind of smiled at me when I let her go ahead, even though, like I already said, I would’ve been much, much quicker. But I guess statistically speaking, she’s the one with less time. If I make it to be an old man, I certainly don’t want to have to waste any of my precious minutes left waiting behind the younger generation at the grocery store.

That half-smile she gave me as she waltzed on through to the cashier, I couldn’t even tell if she was smiling, not a conscious smile, it could have been one of those etched-on smiles that old people sort of settle in to after a whole lifetime of smiling. Or frowning. It could go either way. Have you ever seen an elderly person trapped under the weight of a lifetime of scowling? No, this lady had clearly been I’d say at least generally happy, maybe a little confused, like she was at that moment, studying the screen as each item popped up after being scanned, like, is this right? Did I really pick this stuff out? Weren’t there supposed to be more savings?

And then as she was counting out the exact change needed to pay for everything, that painstaking process of taking out her really, really big wallet, getting her fingers to pry apart the leather insert that separated her cards from her cash from her coupons, I probably could have stood to maybe mind my own business a little better, but I couldn’t take my eyes away, I swear, it was like that wallet was ninety-five percent filled with cut out pieces of paper.

But like I said, somewhere in this eternal process of paying in exact change, she knocked the quart of milk off of the conveyor. And I guess that it was a good thing I was paying way too much attention to every little detail unfolding in slow motion right before my eyes, because I was ready, I saw that quart go down, maybe I could have even stopped it from getting knocked over, but I was locked in, I wanted it pushed over that edge.

I swooped down, maybe a little too dramatically, I caught it with one hand, returned it to the counter before the old lady even had a chance to register what was happening. But thirty seconds later, it must have sunk in, because her perma-smile got just a little bit smilier, like remember how I was saying before how I couldn’t tell if her smile was really a genuine one? This one was definitely genuine. And she said, “Bless you!” which I thought, ha, bless you, what an old-fashioned thing to say.

But after she was done, when it was my turn to run my groceries through, it turned out that there were all sorts of savings that applied to my purchases, discounts and promotions that I was completely oblivious of. And then outside the store, I found a five-dollar bill on the ground. I started to think about it, that blessing business from before, could it have been more than just a polite gesture? Did this lady actually bless me?

And I’d have to conclude that, yes, I’m feeling really blessed. Like I went to work the next day and my boss said, “Hey Rob. Nice haircut. Looking good.” And I said, “Thanks boss.” But I hadn’t gotten a haircut in weeks. I’m telling you, blessed. I’m not sure how long this blessing is good for, but I’m just raking in all the good karma. I’m telling you, it pays to be nice, especially to little old ladies. You never know what sort of lifetime supply of blessings and good-wishes they have tucked away in those giant old-lady purses, just ready to bestow upon whichever good looking young lad happens to let them ahead at the grocery store, or saves their quart of two-percent from making a mess at the register.

Push button for green light

The other day I was driving my car and I saw this lady at the corner. She didn’t have the light so she put down her grocery bags and walked to the pole at the intersection. And then she started pushing that button, the one that I forgot was even there, it says, “Push here and wait for green light.” Not just once, she kept pushing it, over and over again, I imagined her saying in her head, green light, every time she pushed, green light, green light, green light …

green light button

I don’t know why, I couldn’t stand watching her do it, I know I should have just minded my own business but something about that push, push, push, I rolled down my window, “Hey lady! What the hell are you doing? You really think that button’s connected to anything? You really think the light’s going to change faster because you’re standing there pushing it again and again?”

And she looked at me, she was definitely pissed off. I shouldn’t have said anything, it was totally pointless. And I wanted to say so much more, I wanted her to respond, to tell me that it does work, that I should mind my own business, and then I would have kept going, I would have been like, oh yeah? Well why do you keep pushing it then? Shouldn’t you just have to push it the one time? What do you think, it’s a button designed to speed up the changing from red to green based on how many times it’s pressed?

She was just staring at me, still pressing the button at the same frequency, but not paying attention to the light, it changed to green, she ignored it, she was locked on me. I felt kind of bad, but I didn’t want to let her know, I was hoping that she’d maintain eye contact long enough for the light to change again from green to red, and then I could really point out to her the futility of pressing the button.

So I engaged her a little more, this time in a more contrite tone of voice, again, I was feeling bad, she reminded me of my grandmother. Not my grandmother exactly, but somebody’s grandmother. She was old. And I thought back to how I started the conversation, well, it wasn’t a conversation, not yet, she hadn’t said anything back yet, although I could tell she was trying to communicate something with her eyes, but man, finally I was like, “What the hell lady?” I didn’t really need to say hell, that was a little harsh, I wouldn’t have said hell to my grandmother.

So I started again, “Excuse me, ma’am, but you can’t really think that that button is actually connected to anything, can you? I mean, it doesn’t do anything. All of the lights in this city are timed out, like a grid, it’s all measured out in even intervals, to help traffic maintain as good of a flow as possible. And again, I’m sorry I said hell before, but I just hate to see you standing there, pushing it over and over again, and why push it so many times? When you’re at home watching TV, how many times do you push the on button? That’s not really the same, I get it, like with the TV you’re getting an instant result, whereas here … well just imagine if that remote didn’t have any batteries, and you stood there pointing it at the TV, click, click, click, nothing, how long would you keep that up?”

All the while, the light hadn’t changed back to red, I couldn’t believe it, it was actually taking forever, and the lady was still just staring at me, totally giving me the stink eye, so, whatever, I told her, “You know what? I’m sorry lady, just, be careful with your groceries on the floor, someone might knock them over.” And I rolled up my window.

But I couldn’t go anywhere because the light in front of me was stuck on red. One minute, two minutes went by, this thing wasn’t changing. And then I realized why. It was the lady. She was still clicking that button, click, click, click. It must have actually been connected, and her constant pressing was keeping the light green, for her. For me it was red. I was stuck.

I rolled down the window, “Hello? Hi, hello,” she was still just staring at me, unwavering, “Yeah, look, I feel really bad, and I’m actually thinking that maybe that button does work, and listen, I feel really terrible, coming at you like that, berating you, you’re clearly in the right here, I think the button does work, obviously it works, that light hasn’t changed in a while now. Anyway, you’ve proved your point, and I’d just like to … I’m sorry again, I’d really like to … yeah, so.”

But she didn’t stop. Now I was getting pissed again. But what was I going to do, knock her groceries over? Force her to stop pushing the button? I looked left and right, making sure no other cars were coming, and I inched into the intersection. Immediately I saw the red and blue lights behind me, a cop car perfectly hidden from view, watching me run the light.

“Officer, I’m really sorry, but that lady, she kept pushing the button, the light wouldn’t change. And I was going really slow, come on, I’m sorry.”

And the officer was like, “What are you stupid? Those buttons aren’t connected to anything. Nice try pal, now hand over your license and registration.”

But that lady, I turned around, she was gone, no lady, no bag of groceries, nothing. What was she, a ghost? Was this like some sort of a haunted intersection? Am I really going to have to go down to City Hall to fight this ticket? Because there’s no way that the judge is going to believe any of this. I guess I could just hope that the officer never shows up, and I could just make up some other story. Or maybe a reduced fine, something. I’m telling you, I know it sounds crazy, but she had to have been a ghost, because how else can you explain any of this stuff?

You leave a pie on the windowsill, someone’s going to take it

A couple of weeks ago I was walking down this street by my house when I caught a really great smell. I looked around and pinpointed where the aroma was coming from. About two houses down, this lady was setting a pie out on her windowsill. I couldn’t believe it. This was like something out of a movie. People actually do this in real life? They actually leave pies out to cool?

I had to have it. I thought, I’ve seen this go down in old-time movies, the lady leaves the pie out, they cut to a guy walking down the street, me, I start licking my lips, my mouth watering, salivating with animal desire, and then I’m carefully sneaking up to the window, making sure nobody’s looking, I snatch the pie and make a run for it. Then they’ll cut back to the empty window, that lady will kind of look around and scratch her head in confusion, now where could I have left that pie?

Why not? You know what’s more American than homemade apple pie? Taking a freshly baked apple pie from some lady’s window. I walked right up and grabbed it, which, I found out immediately, it was a huge mistake. No wonder she had put it out to cool. This thing was red hot. Every once in a while I’ll be working at the restaurant, and I’ll watch the cooks, maybe from like years of handling hot dishes, they’re able to pick up anything with their bare leather hands.

And I’ll be like, well, if they can do it, I can do it too. And so I’ll grab a plate and it’s really hot and I’ll drop it immediately. You think you can will your body to ignore the pain, to just muscle through it, but there’s always a point where your hand just lets go immediately. So I had this pie and it was really hot and I though, OK, I better put this down right away.

I didn’t have much time, so I kind of just dropped it down at my feet. I didn’t know what to do, so I took off my shirt and used it as a potholder and picked it up. But this was like not part of my plan at all. I wanted a quick getaway. Instead, here I was still standing at this lady’s window, shirtless. “Hey!” I heard her scream at me, “What are you doing? Give me that pie!”

And so I freaked out and ran. I ran like three blocks, still no shirt on, holding this pie in my hands. I had no idea where to go. This never happened in the old movies. There was a really small park like three blocks away, and so I found some bench sort of out of the way and sat down to figure out my next move. I finally got a good look at the pie. It was definitely blueberry or cherry, some sort of small, jammy fruit. The filling was bubbling out of the sides still, and maybe because I aggravated it by too suddenly dropping it to the ground, it was kind of oozing out of one side, getting all over my shirt.

How would I even go about trying to eat this thing? I didn’t have any utensils, nothing. And like I’ve said already, it was really, really hot. And then I started to feel bad, like really bad, overwhelmingly guilty. What had I just done, really? In my insane impulse to replicate a snippet of Americana that I’m not even sure if I was remembering correctly, I’d gone ahead and probably ruined this lady’s day.

I’m no novice. I know what it takes to make a fresh pie, from scratch. Just getting the crust right is a pretty significant challenge, chilling the butter, working with it fast enough so that you can form a decent crust without the whole thing melting apart. It’s doable, you know, like anything you get better with practice, but I looked at this pie, it definitely had that rustic appeal. Maybe this lady was like seriously depressed, and so she picked up pie baking as a new hobby, something to keep her mind of the debilitating numbness crippling her everyday life. And maybe all of her pies had thus far been unsuccessful, maybe this was her first real triumph.

And as she set that first really good pie on the windowsill she thought, maybe life isn’t so bad after all, maybe things will get better. And then just as she turned around I came up and took it. I fumbled it. I ran. I started to feel even worse. I looked at the pie tray. It wasn’t one of those disposable foil trays. This was nice. It looked like it had a history. Maybe it was her mother’s. Maybe she found it while she was mourning her loss and thought, hey, pie baking, I’ll pick that up in honor of mom’s life. This’ll help me get through it. And so not only did I rob this lady of her pie, of her time spent baking the pie, but now her pie tray is gone too, how would I get it back to her?

I was feeling bad for a while, sitting there in the park, the breeze against my bare chest, sad. But then I thought, wait a second, why was she leaving this pie unattended? Why didn’t she have any screens for her window? Who leaves food right in an open entryway to their house? That’s an invitation for bugs, for rodents, cat and raccoons even. No, I did her an indirect favor. She wouldn’t make that mistake again. And there’d be much less likely of a chance at any infestation now that …

“Hey! You!” someone yelled at me, interrupted my thought.

“That’s him officer! And that’s my pie!”

I turned around. It was the lady. Somehow she found a cop, and somehow they found me here. I didn’t know what to do. I panicked. I went to pick up the pie to hand it back to her, to say that I’m sorry, that that was a crazy thing that I did, that I was just about to bring it back. But I forgot how hot the pie was, so when I picked it up I got that slow burn, until finally I couldn’t hold it in. I screamed, “Yow!” and I threw the pie to the ground, and this time it was totally destroyed. I looked back up at the cop and the lady, I couldn’t think of anything to say, and I just ran. And I’m a really good runner, very fast, a lot of endurance, and just took off, zigzagging through random streets, careful not to lead them back to my house, and I did it, I lost them.