Jim Slater was an old buddy I had known since the war. He and I ran into each other when we got out and were looking for a job. He worked for the county over in Snobbish County and I in Dekker. But about ten years ago Jim and his wife Sandra moved to Dekker because
three of their four children lived here. He and I bowled, fished and hunted together along with helping each other out on home projects. We found that the two of us could do a jobabout three times faster than either could do it alone.
Ever since I was a small boy I have never been much at eating at other people’s houses and I do not like to just go visiting unless there is a reason and a job to do. And as one can expect I very seldom have company unless they come for a reason and we are working or going someplace. My wife has her friends and if they are there when I come home, they quickly leave and according to my wife if she is at someone’s house and their husband comes home, she too leaves.
Now what I am doing is trying to say in a roundabout way I only know a few people closely and their moods and actions I seldom see or take note of
unless they are a holy terror.
Jim and Sandra were in an auto accident; Jim bed ridden and Sandra was in a wheel chair and crutches. One day Jim calls, “Bud, I hate to impose but would you take Sandra to the grocery store? Our cupboards are about bare.”
My first thought was what about the children they moved here to be close to, but I did not ask. But I did know if Jim asked, then it was not a folly so I said OK, when?”
Sandra was primping and preening like ah heck I don’t know what and all we were doing was
going to the supermarket. Jim and I talked about how soon he would be up and about and how
long it would take the insurance company to get him another car for thirty minutes or so when Sandra screamed, “Bud are we going or not, how long do I have to wait for you?”
Whoa Nellie, I thought, I have been sitting and waiting for you. I go in and she is in her wheel chair with her crutches. I shrugged for she had been running around the house without either when I got there. I managed to get her to the car and helped her in, then folded up the wheelchair and put it in the trunk. “Which supermarket?” I asked.
She began a diatribe about how bad this one and that one were along with what their specials were. I hadn’t backed out of the driveway yet. Finally I put the car in park, set the brake, and turned off the engine. “When you decide which store then I will know which way to go,” I told her.
“You are not very nice. Here I am in pain and you treat me like this,” she replied in a snotty and quite terse tone.
“Mrs. Slater, I do not know which store you frequent. You just ran them all down and I apologize if I am not as considerate but I do not think asking which store you wish to shop is a superfluous question.”
She gave me the evil eye look, “Well everyone knows I shop at Albertson’s,” she replied.
I started up and drove there. I pulled into the first open space and she glared at me, “Park in the Handicap, I am handicapped,” she growled.
“Do you have your handicap parking sticker?"
"I do not have one,” I replied as I got out and got her wheelchair. When we entered the store I asked, “Do you want one of those carts?” “They are easy to use, I will show you,” I told her as I pushed her close to one.
We got her in and I showed her the controls, twist the handle grip forward to go forward and twist it back to of backwards. I folded her chair and got a cart.
She started one way then another, finally throwing up her hands and saying she wanted her wheelchair. So I got her into it and then pushing her and pulling a cart headed for the produce department because that is where I always start.
First it was to dairy where I did not realize there are umpteen brands of milk and each brand has skimmed, one percent, two percent, Pasteurized and maybe more. A discourse on buying a gallon versus a half gallon versus a quart. Finally I looked at her, “Heck there
are what two big glasses or three in a quart and unless you drink a lot a gallon normally goes bad for two people, well unless you eat a lot of chili,” I offered.
Some terse and snide remarks and we finally ended up with a half gallon of one percent. Then it was all the way across the store to the meat department. Pork chops, me I buy the least expensive center cuts and if there is a special I buy a pork loin and cut it up.
I was given a twenty minute lecture on the different brands of pork chops and how when she was a little girl her aunt’s friend bought some pork chops that had hair on them. We ended up getting a package of three pork chops after I had shown her about every package in the display case.
From there it was back across the store to the bakery and oh heck you get the idea. Twice I had to go around the corner and the second time I thought about going next door to the liquor store and buying me a pint and pouring it into a cup and gulping it; but I didn’t.
Both time when I returned she was standing at the cheese display moving around in a most agile and free movement, but when she saw me it was back in the chair and “Bud, let me see . . . “
Two hours forty seven minutes later we only had half a cart of food. Finally I looked at
her, “Mrs. Slater, the ice cream is going to melt and the other things will spoil.” This
led to a stern talking to about people needing help and how crass and inconsiderate others
were to them.
My tongue had lots of bloody spots where I had been biting it.
Finally we went to check out and there the poor bagger, an older man who to me was a special person was given holy what for because he did not bag things the way she thought they should be bagged.
I put the food in the car and started back toward her house when
she asked, “Where are you going? I always go to King Soopers after Albertson’s.”
“Ooops, my bad,” I said with a big laugh.
Forty eight minutes and we bought three items.
And then it was to the day old bakery where I caught holy what for and the poor lady who worked there even more so because the price of bread had gone up seven cents. She had to chat with three different ladies and tell them all about their accident and what all the doctors had done and had not done. Oh and how inconsiderate the nurses were.
After I helped her into the car and put the groceries in I told her I would be back in a couple and I ran to the liquor store where I bought three half gallons of Jim Beam and a
half gallon of Gin along with three bottles of brandy. Oh she had words for me leaving her
in that car while I frequented that horrible place.
Three hours, fifty eight minutes and twelve seconds from the time we had backed into the street we were home from going to the grocery store. I pushed her in and then brought all
of the groceries and purchases inside. Then it was put them away.
One hour and twelve
minutes later that job was done. I went out and got a jug of Jim Beam and the jug of gin and took them in to Jim. “These are for the next person who has to take your wife to the store.”
He shook his head and grinned, “Sorry Bud, I will try to make it up to you,” he replied, looking very embarrassed.
“Where are the three children you moved here to be close to?” I asked.
He let out a big laugh, “They moved away.”
We shook hands and I headed home thinking, “Never again, never, not even for my best and oldest friend.”