When I was a kid and ran around my neighborhood with the innocence and freedom that youth allows, I would often be stopped by the old woman who lived two houses down, in the curious old house with the incredible vegetation in the front and back yards. Bushes that hid your view of the front door, trees in the dark backyard that seemed to guard the house, vines growing up the front and side, wrapped around the windows. It was the closest thing to a haunted house that we had in the neighborhood.
Her name was Mrs. Decker, and she loved bananas.
She called me Babe Ruth, because I used to play wiffle ball in my yard every chance I could. I would be walking or running down the street towards home, and I would suddenly hear someone calling “Babe Ruth! Oh, Babe Ruth!” (I can’t remember if she ever even knew my real first name. To her I was always The Sultan of Swat.) She told me to come up the steps to her front door, where she proceeded to give me some money to go across the street to the supermarket to buy her bananas. Nothing else, just bananas. This happened twice a week.
When I returned with her bunch of bananas she gave me 25 cents for my efforts. Please note that even in 1973 this was a small amount of money. I’m sure I put it away until Friday night, when I would go down to the Reliable Market and buy a bag of junk food and watch The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222 and The Odd Couple.
I thought of this while at the supermarket today. The woman in front of me bought nothing but a bunch of bananas and…proceeded to pay for them with a check. Now, I’m not one to stop someone from using paper over electronic when the situation arises, but this was a little ridiculous. The least she could have done to make it look like she was buying more, even if it was just for show, was to buy something else at the checkout. A packet of gum, a gossip magazine (Wills and Kate just had a baby!), or something. But no, she just had her sad bunch of bananas and everyone in line had to wait while she asked the cashier what the date was, filled out the check, and waited for the cashier to put it through the register.
Can I also mention that she didn’t put one of those plastic dividers behind her bananas when I pulled up behind her with my cart full of groceries? This is just one of the examples where I think shoppers at supermarkets should be put in prison. The other four?
1. Leaving your cart in the middle of the aisle or the end of the aisle while you walk down that aisle – or even two aisles away, which I’ve seen many, many times and find baffling – looking for something. There have been dozens of times I’ve actually had to move the cart to the side myself because the person was too far away for me to say “Excuse me, is this your cart?”
2. Stopping in the middle of an aisle to have a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in days, and then you sigh heavily when I come by with my cart and want to get by (or you simply don’t move at all). I’m sorry for interrupting your convo. Maybe you could text each other?
3. Putting something in your cart, and then four aisles away you decide you don’t want that thing after all, so you just put it on the next shelf you see. This is why I often find frozen dinners next to the potato chips.
4. Not putting your cart away in the corral after you’re done loading your groceries into your car. Today I saw three carts right next to the corral, because the people couldn’t be bothered to walk 7 more steps to actually put it in the corral. I wish Alcatraz was still in operation for these people, so they could be shipped there to live their lives, where they’ll never again have to deal with shopping carts or supermarkets or private toilets.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re just buying bananas, pay in cash.
(Here’s that house today. Not so scary anymore, though picture it with trees on the other side of those cement stairs, vines crawling up the side, and no lights at night and you’re 8 years old.)