What I Saw at the Supermarket
It was another day of the pandemic in mid-2020 when our fridge was empty. The last over-priced debacle with online grocery delivery caused us to reassess that choice and now I was the one to forge for food.
I didn’t mind because I was still looking for a job and bored staying at home. Going to the supermarket was my chance to avoid hearing another awkward video call taking place in the living room “office.” It was my chance to go back to our routine of shopping (minus him this time) and discover new recipe inspirations, ripe avocados and unbruised bananas. It was my chance to see people and maybe have a conversation in real life.
Pulling in the parking lot, I grabbed a spot close to the supermarket’s door noticing the line had seven people waiting. I took the eighth spot in line. Shouldn’t be that bad, I thought. One clerk was busy wiping down carts while his two of his coworkers were chatting, then they waved us all in. A thrill of excitement ran through me when “Little Red Corvette” met my ears and I pushed my wet cart towards the avocados.
Then, I saw her, well, the back of her. I knew that olive green jacket with the faded black peace sign anywhere. It belonged to only one person in Berkeley: our old neighbor, Helen. I wanted to turn my cart to escape. But, there was a cluster of people obediently following the arrows on the floor, hindering my get-away plans. Instead, I put my head down to cross off avocados on my list.
The best thing was to pretend I just didn’t see the peace sign. We both were now part of a group of people, staying six feet apart, moving through the produce section towards the seafood. Helen pulled her cart towards the open freezer then put her bag in the child’s seat of the cart. I turned to pick out two bunches of bananas and when I turned back to put them in my cart I saw her put at least three bags of frozen fish in her open bag. Then, she picked up another three, put them with the rest, casually zipped it and started to walk.
Shocked, I was about to text my partner but remembered he usually took her side. Helen was always single and always flirting with everyone, especially men who had girlfriends. And, after everything that happened when…