A Memoir- The Shopping Cart Escapade

         A Memoir

   The Shopping Cart Escapade

By R.S.

It was an ordinary day when Mom called me into the kitchen while she was cooking dinner.  She explained to me that she was unable to do the family food shopping anymore, due to her large pregnant belly.  Mom was eight months pregnant with my soon to be born, baby brother. Mom didn’t drive. It was too difficult for her to push the metal shopping cart from our house to the supermarket.  There were several large steps to climb up over, in order to get into the shopping center. There were many cracked and uprooted sidewalks from the trees that made walking over them dangerous, and very difficult to push a shopping wagon full of food over it.  

As I sat there listening, being the oldest of my siblings,  11 years old at that time, it seemed only natural that I was assigned to do this big chore.  Of course, I wasn’t happy about it. It cut into my magazine time. A highlight of my day was looking over all the latest fashion trends and checking out the new lip glosses.  Yippie!!! As I realized what I was up against, the only consolation that I had, was that I was able to get a free bag of chips and iced tea, my absolute favorite snacks, without dipping into my weekly allowance.

Every Friday afternoon, my Mom would give me $100.00 in cash that she would put into a letter envelope.  She would write the grocery list on the outside of it. Mom’s spelling wasn’t the greatest, since english wasn’t her first language.  Coming from Sicily, she had to learn how to read and write in english as well as speak it. Once in a while, some of her italian words would get commingled with her english words.  Of course, I understood what she meant, when she wrote “vextables”, instead of vegetables, or a “baleta”, which means “dustpan” in sicilian.  

The biggest thing I hated about food shopping was the metal food cart I rolled to the supermarket.  It was shaped like a box and made of heavy metal. It had two large wheels on the bottom and two handles on top.  There were two little hooks hanging on top, so you can attach it to the metal shopping cart at the Supermarket. Toe stubbing was nothing knew when you are not paying attention to the rotating wheels.  Pushing the metal cart home, full of food over all the bumps, cracked sidewalks, huge steps, and maneuvering through the parking lot was a challenge. Oh the joy! How could I forget about pushing it through the Ice, Snow and Rain.  What fun that was!! Now, that I think back on it, I don’t think the chips and iced tea was enough consolation.

Inside the supermarket was a security guard who seemed to follow me at every aisle.  Every time I looked up, there he was, looking sheepish at the end of the aisle. Maybe he found it strange that an 11 year old was doing such a big food shopping, who knows?.  But every week, there he was, watching me put food in the cart.  

One Friday afternoon, I was in the supermarket as usual.  I finished the food shopping and looked inside the envelope as I was waiting in line to check out.  To my surprise and horror, there was no money inside of it. Sheer panic came over me. Did I lose it?  Was it stolen? My Mom is going to kill me. $100.00 back then, would be the equivalent to $250.00 today.  When I was a teenager, there were no cell phones, no computers, just good old fashioned telephones. I walked over to the store manager and asked him if I could call home.  Thankfully, he was very kind and allowed me to phone home. I called home and my Mom picked up the phone. I told her that there was no money inside the envelope. “Hold on” she said quickly and disappeared off the phone.  In a few seconds, which seemed forever to me, she came back onto the phone and chuckled saying “Oh, I forgot to put the money inside the envelope. Don’t worry, your Dad came home early today. I’m gonna send him over with the money.” said Mom still chuckling.    Sheer terror turned into sheer relief. I’m not going to get killed after all. Good ole’ Dad was on his way and I can relax until he gets here.

After 20 minutes, I spotted Dad coming through the door, coming to my rescue.  “Hey Dad, I’m over here” I said waving to him. Just as Dad started to walk over to me, disaster struck.

“OWWWW, OOOHHHH!!!! EEEEE!!!.  In a loud voice, Dad belted out “Hey Lady, you ran over my foot with your shopping cart!  I think I’m bleeding!!!! quipped Dad. The old lady took one look at my Dad and took off down some aisle, never to be seen again.  Before I could ask Dad if he was ok, he continued to moan, “Oh, I think the skin is ripped off my foot” “I think I need Ice” Dad said seriously.  

Dad scooted over to the frozen food aisle where there was ice sitting on top of frozen boxed vegetables,  In a blink of an eye, Dad’s leg went up. He ripped off his shoe and sock and stuck his foot on top of the frozen ice.  “AHHHH, that feels better” sighed Dad with relief.

I could barely get the words out to ask if he was ok.  Bent over laughing so hard, it looked as if I was crying.  The manager came running over and asked Dad if he was ok. “I am now” replied Dad. When Dad’s foot felt better, we paid for our food and went home.  I must admit that food shopping was never the same after that. Each week, I passed by the frozen food aisle with a smile on my face. I continued to do the family food shopping for many years, until I started college.  

Thanks Dad for this wonderful memory.

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