I normally don’t shop at Country Mart. They are notorious for selling expired merchandise. It’s the kind of place my mom would have frequented. Only Saturday I was in there and passed on the four brownish limp bags of shredded lettuce, and browsed the entire aisle, six levels high, of assorted salad dressings that mostly read: Sell By April 4, 2016.
I was in Country Mart because I needed Bugles, and some containers. That’s because Val is making a batch of going-away Chex Mix for select colleagues. When I first entered the store, there was a dude slowly pushing a cart down the middle of the front aisle. I got around him, and started Bugle shopping. He turned around and came back. He started to turn in my aisle, but aborted at the last minute when he saw me. As I waited to cross over to the foil/trash bag/container aisle, Dude came cruising down the main aisle again. And turned in right where I was going. I guess he wanted to make it look like I was following HIM!
To make matters worse, he stopped right in front of the containers, with a pretense of looking at stuff on the opposite shelves. He must have been some kind of creepy psychic to know what area of the aisle interested me. He finally moved his cart over so I could grab some suitable Chex-holders. I went back up the aisle to head for the check out.
Dude brought up my rear. But he took the express lane to my right, while I was stuck behind an old man preoccupied with talking to a long-lost friend who had already checked out. As had Old Man’s wife, in a different way.
Old Man 1: “Yeah. It’s been a long time. How’s your wife?”
Old Man 2: “She passed away about 10 years ago.”
Old Man 1: “You’re kidding me!”
Old Man 2: “No.”
Cashier: “It’s waiting for you. Debit or credit?”
Old Man 1: “Every time I’m here, it wants to know more and more.”
Cashier: “Is the amount okay?”
Old Man 1: “There.” He rejoined in rejoinder with his checked out buddy.
Cashier: “Do you want cash back?”
Old Man 1: “There. When it starts asking me what kind of toilet paper I use, that’s when I stop using it.”
I was SO ready for him to get out of there. But now I had to wonder if he meant he would stop using the card-scanner or the toilet paper. At least he was just a weirdo. Meanwhile, Dude the creeper was already checked out, and standing in front of one of the two scratch-off lottery ticket machines on either side of the front door. I made a mental note to go to the other machine.
I took my grocery bags and put them in the cart, then pushed it over to the left machine. I sensed Dude watching me. Was it HIS business how much I spent on scratchers? I put in a bill and made my selections. Dude pushed his cart slowly behind me. That made me nervous. I leave my tickets in the dispensing bin until I’m done. What if Dude decided to run up and grab them? I made sure my body and my cart blocked his way. I put in my second bill. Dude had moved past, and was watching from the other side. Enough was enough!
I gathered up my tickets and put them in my grocery bag. Dude moved in on the machine. I went to look at the other machine, to see if it had some tickets that the first one was out of. Huh! The sign was still on it from Saturday. OUT OF ORDER. Taped on the front. That’s funny. Why was Dude standing there like he was buying tickets earlier?
I pushed the cart all the way across the parking lot from the exit door to T-Hoe. I sensed somebody following. Not so much sensed as heard the rattle of a cart. I went around the back of T-Hoe to load my groceries on The Pony’s empty seat behind me. I’ll be ding-dang-donged if that creepy Dude did not round the corner of T-Hoe and push up to the small SUV beside me. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up now. Even though that car had been parked there when I arrived, and Dude had clicked open his back hatch to stow away his purchases.
My creepdar was screaming louder than that beanstalk giant’s magical harp when Jack tried to abscond with it. I did not want to be parked right next to Dude. I climbed in T-Hoe and clicked the locks. There. No creep was getting any closer to Val!
Sometimes, it can't hurt to be cautious.
Sometimes, it can't hurt to be cautious.