Fast and furious in aisle seven | Ann Oxrieder

In my last column I wrote about being dumped onto hard soil by a horse.

Since then, walking has hurt. When the pain was at its worst, I couldn’t cover any distance without my hip screaming.

The day before the Independence Day holiday, my husband and I made a Costco run. He offered to go alone, but I insisted on accompanying him. How else could I keep a dozen watermelons, 14 chickens and a crate of bananas from jockeying for space in my refrigerator? When I walked into the store, I realized I could never cover the distance on foot.

“May I use one of those carts?” I asked the ID checker at the entrance.

She nodded. I settled down into the seat of one and tested the knob in front of me. Twist it one way and I moved forward, twist it another and I moved backward, forget which was which and I crashed into the wall behind me.

As I tried to leave the wall the checker shouted, “You’ve got to unplug it.”

Despite my barely having a learner’s permit, I zipped around everyone with aplomb. And “everyone” the day before a holiday meant more than a few.

No one looked down at me with terror in their eyes. In fact, no one noticed me at all.  They weren’t just oblivious to me, but to all the shoppers they passed. In large stores, shopping malls, casinos, factors such as size of the space, lighting and crowds can unite to overwhelm the senses and turn all of us into zombies. I witnessed a herd of them shuffling along, pushing their carts in single file down each aisle, staring unseeing at the people and merchandise around them.

Unlike those on foot, I had to stay alert to avoid maiming a fellow shopper. I had only one accident, an accomplishment for someone who hadn’t taken the written driver’s exam, much less the road test. As I wheeled around a corner, I rammed an empty cart, which knocked a bunch of clothing items off a table. From my low vantage point I couldn’t tell what I’d sent flying, only that I couldn’t imagine one little jolt causing so many objects to slide onto the floor at once.

A witness to the accident laughed and shouted, “Now you’ve done it.” For a moment, I felt pride knowing I’d brought life into one of the walking dead around me, a slight compensation for getting caught creating a traffic backup.


Ann Oxrieder has lived in Bellevue for 35 years. She retired after 25 years as an administrator in the Bellevue School District and now blogs about retirement at http://stillalife.wordpress.com/.

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