Reflections – Finding Loved Ones In The Grocery Aisle

Childhood In a Grocery Store

One of my first significant memories after coming online and engaging in the world around me happened in a grocery store. I was finally of the age where I could walk through the store on my own, diligently following my parents, of course. And as I trailed behind my Mom and Dad, I would grab items at random and stare intently as I absorbed the newness of experience. During these days, old women would stop and adore the giant shock of curly blonde hair on my head. I would usually cry. What for? I have no idea. I didn’t handle certain situations well in my more formative years. Now, I just write about the weirdness instead of freaking out.

On this trip to the grocery store, I remember we stood in the cereal and toy aisle, a perfect place for children. Maybe it correlates to the lack of stores in rural areas of the northeast. Anyway, shelves stocked full of Lucky Charms, CoCo Puffs, Wheaties, Count Chocula, Cookie Crisp and Grapenuts loomed behind me as I faced a wall of toys stretching toward the heavens. I will always be chasing the aww and wonder of my youth.

Childhood In a Grocery Store

The delicious, carb-loaded cereal behind me combined with the dreams of running in our backyard with dueling squirt guns held me in a trance. My Dad told me to put the toys back and come with him. We were leaving. I ignored his instruction. My brain was overstimulated by shiny objects.

I sat there playing with the toys and imagining a world of monsters I could destroy with the plastic swords or oddly realistic water shooting firearms. G.I. Joe would back me up along with the Power Rangers. I’m still captivated by these adventures. I get lost all the time.

When I came out of the imaginary world, my parents were nowhere to be found. And by “nowhere to be found” I mean they were not in my immediate purview. They assumed I would follow, and they were close. I wasn’t lost, but a paralyzing fear took over and I began to panic. I freaked out and began to cry. What might have been only thirty seconds seemed like an eternity. Time was irrelevant.

Childhood In a Grocery Store

A nice employee recognized my distress and stopped to ask if I was OK. My panic rendered me incapable of telling the young lady what was wrong and where my parents were. I would learn years later that when my Paps walked back down the aisle, he’d just missed the young lady leading me to the register to call for my parents to come and get me. My Dad basically walked down the aisle behind me and the nice woman, and all was well.

Ignoring my parents’ request to follow them probably wasn’t the best idea, but what is a little boy to do in a world full of fun and interesting things he has never seen before? Looking back, I still think it was worth the fear for me. My parents probably don’t see the experience in the same light. The world seems like a dangerous place. Grocery stores aren’t the size of amusement parks or airports or anything, but to a five-year-old, they are a galaxy worth of space and possibility. It’s easy to get lost in the colors and sounds of the world. I miss that childlike innocence of how I framed my reality and I wonder if there is any way to get it back. I am grateful to the nameless woman who stopped to help a crying kiddo and bring me to the front.

Childhood In a Grocery Store

Life is a long strange trip and with every passing year it’s more difficult to distinguish reality from illusion in this dystopian present. The pandemic has intensified the uncertainty by way of our overly enthusiastic and divisive media platforms. Sometimes I feel like I’m slowly going insane. In other moments, I wonder if I lost it years ago.

Despite our constant connectivity it’s easy to feel isolated as the summer heat bears down on us all. But remaining connected to the group is crucial to our survival. Grocery stores and the workers within are a staple of any given community. Maybe what we need is a nice supermarket employee to remind us that people care about each other. Fortunately, they are easy to find out there living life on the grocery line.

3 thoughts on “Reflections – Finding Loved Ones In The Grocery Aisle

  1. Best one yet!! I love reading your posts and I’m so pleased to be a part of the great community you created on Facebook!

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