It’s one of those chores that carries mixed blessings. The supermarket aisle on payday Friday becomes a tangle of carts and strollers and shoppers with children in tow. Yet it all seems worth the trouble when I stand back and peer into my pantry, arms crossed with a sense of satisfaction.
So, I grab the last item on my list, ice cream of course, and select the checkout counter with the shortest line. One must not be in a hurry here. I peruse magazine headlines as the cart and I inch nearer the black conveyor belt.
About half of the cart is emptied when two frail hands reach in and pick up the red grapes I’ve so carefully chosen from bunches of grapes in various stages of freshness. I like firm, crisp red grapes, and this bunch is as near perfect as I can find. After placing them on the counter the old man removes a bottle of sparkling water and, one by one, the rest of my groceries. He looks up at me and I thank him for his help. He replies, “Oh, it’s nothing at all.” He is slender and appears in good health despite his frail hands. I respond, “Well, sir . . . today it is something. Thank you again.”
The shopper in front of me has a stack of coupons. It takes a long time to verify and scan each one—seasoned shoppers know this. The old man says, “I’d like to show you these photos I just picked up. I have the time, and you seem the sort who might appreciate them.” He tells me that he shoots one roll of film each week, mostly of people, and things like statues and flowers. Each photograph has a story, and he tells them all to me.
Near the end of the photographs, and the stories, the cashier finishes ringing up my groceries so I break away to swipe my card and punch in the required code. Before leaving, I turn back to the old man. “I just want to thank you again for your help, sir, and for sharing your photographs with me.” He smiles, as if it’s nothing at all.
chilled red grapes . . .
in the fireplace