Saturday, November 25, 2017

The One With the Leeks

"Well here's a question: do you like eating? Then shut up!"

I was standing in front of the apples; the voice came from somewhere among the vegetables, loud and clear and shrill, like the question was for everyone in all of produce. I snuck a peek, and accidentally met eyes with its owner. I hate when that happens.

She was tall and thin and she had permed brown hair and a quivering, hunched-over husband. He was staring sorrowfully at the leeks. I was not the only one looking at the lady, but I was the only one the lady was looking back at.

To my surprise, she smiled sweetly at me as though nothing were amiss. She looked like the kind of person who never yelled at anyone. The husband reached out and touched one of the leeks. Everyone went back to minding their own business.

I headed for the checkout.

On my way to the car, I passed a man in the parking lot who, I thought, looked quite down on his luck. He was a big guy, middle-aged, with greasy hair and a torn, dirty jacket that didn't look warm enough for the weather. He carried a white styrofoam cup. His face looked sad in kind of the same way as the husband in the store (the one with the leeks). He was walking slowly, a bit aimlessly, in his own world and he didn't notice me.

I carefully loaded my groceries into the passenger seat of my car and headed home.

As I sat stopped at a red light a block away, the man from the parking lot caught up to me. He pushed the pedestrian button and crossed in front of my car, still aimless and slow, still looking sad and lost. But halfway across the street, he did something surprising too: he reached into his styrofoam cup, pulled out a tiny wand, and blew, leaving a trail of soap bubbles streaming behind him.

The light turned green before he was all the way across, but he didn't seem to notice that he was holding up traffic.