What if you went to Kroger’s and there were no carts?

Tom Stafford

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Tom Stafford

He’s not only the owner of superhero underwear and jammies that likely could use a good bleaching. As it turns out, our 5-year-old grandson has a super power of his own.

At critical moments, Finney’s Disarming Beam of Truth will blaze forth from his doe eyes and he’ll share with us his most profound observations about life.

And it’s my sincere belief that had he gone to the grocery with us last Sunday, when arriving home, he would have put on the High Beams and Face-Timed this urgent message to our daughter.

“Mommy, it was cwazy at Kwoger’s today. Weally, weally cwazy.”

And Super Finney would have been dead wight.

How crowded was it last Sunday?

So crowded there wasn’t a cart in the entrance area: Not a big one, not a little one, not two stuck together with Crazy Glue, not one with Horton pushing a Who.

Since our Kroger’s flyers had not announced Sunday as Carte Blanche Day, Grandma and me felt like we’d just got run over by the same reindeer.

But luck was on our side.

My arrival to the store’s front door was delayed by the time it took me to inch the car backwards and forwards a dozen times in an effort to place it exactly between the yellow parking space lines to keep from getting keyed.

Just as I turned toward the entrance, my wife emerged. And, after 45 years of marriage, I knew by the look on her face alone that she was cartless at Kroger’s.

After reflecting briefly on what a sad commentary that may be on marriage, I grabbed a pair of carts from the cart corral. And as I arrived at the entrance, gave a push so the first one would release from the second and glide slowly up to her.

It was a perfect delivery and provided one of those moments of simple pleasure in the life a person with a small mind, me.

Even in the absence of orange cones, there were enough cart snarls in the aisles that I considered a call to Sgt. Mark Bowron to check the commute time from produce to dairy and frozen foods.

A guy stuck with me in a snarl near the fish counter told me somebody had just gone by at 90 narrowly missing four children packed into a cart with their groceries. We talked among ourselves about whether their mother had cashed in a pair of double coupons at a fertility clinic.

Several near accidents led to a conversation about whether we should discontinue our collision insurance on carts, keeping the liability alone. Focused on paying only for what we need, I added a rotisserie emu to the shopping list.

Given the combined forces of traffic and sticker shock most people maintained pleasant moods.

Through it all, the Misses and I used the divide and conquer strategy. She would work her half of the list, I would work mine, then I’d spend 45 minutes in a desperate effort to find her.

More than once at the grocery I’ve wondered whether the day had come when she finally decided to leave me. In a panic on Sunday, I asked a guy at the service desk to read an announcement asking shoppers to look for a missing elderly woman in the aisles.

The guy at the counter told me, “Old man, she’d leave you for sure if you did that.”

“Even if I have keys?”

I finally found her in frozen foods, and we went pulled up to the checkout aisle like a semi with two trailers.

Before checking out, I let one person through who had 15 items in her cart. She thanked me and I explained I always do that so I can be mean to everyone else I encounter during the day.

Checkout went smoothly when an unflappable Amanda scanned us through and, with Sean’s able help, packed us up and sent us to the door.

With the groceries tucked in the car, I turned to my wife and said “I’m glad we did that.”

She countered with the more precise: “I’m glad we’re done with that.”

Even without the doe eyes, I knew she was telling me the twuth, the whole twuth and nothing but the twuth. So help me God.

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