In the Paddock

The following situation needs some explanation. Hopefully the story below does it justice. 

Dashed off to the grocery mid-morning, about two days late after returning home from two weeks in Kentucky for the end of Keeneland, Big Turtle 10-Mile Trail Race and of course the Kentucky Oaks and Derby.

Grabbed two reusable bags from the trunk, head in, put the bags on the bottom of one of those midsize carts, pull up “Tom’s Shopping” from the Alexa app and head in. Ten minutes later and a three-quarter-full cart I wait in the checkout line.

When it’s clear I’m to the point where I can walk off the sticker on the floor reminding everyone to keep a safe distance I scan the bottom of the cart for the bags.

No bags.

Hmmm. Maybe they’re under the stuff on top.

Nope. No bags.

“Well, that’s strange.”

Turned around, made eye contact with the woman in line behind me with what I’d guess is her teenage daughter with a similar-sized cart.

“It’s one of those days when you put your bags in your cart then get up to the line and you don’t have your bags.”

She doesn’t offer much of a response, then starts to look at the other lines when I mention “they must have fallen out, maybe I’ll go find them.”

Too late, it’s my turn to plop down my haul on the conveyor belt.

“Ah well, I guess I’ll find them after I checkout.”

Thankfully the store keeps a stash of cardboard boxes alone the outside wall, so I grab a couple and start tossing stuff in.

“Want to hear a funny story?”

“Sure,” the woman scanning the items said.

I repeat the story, realize it’s not that funny and probably just a little strange.

“Maybe someone turned them into the service counter.”

Jackpot. Nope, no bags.

Then I remembered switching carts because the little child seat flap deal was missing and figured all my loose produce (don't use those single-use bags!) would fall out of the two gaps in the cart. And then it got strange.

After deciding not to just take a stroll through the store with the two boxes in the cart I head for the parking lot. Walking out the exit I pass the same teenager that was in line behind me with her mother sitting on a short brick wall, seemingly waiting for a ride, with two full reusable grocery bags slung over her shoulder. My. Reusable. Bags.

I’m midstride on that short little ramp that helps you avoid going over the curb with the cart. I walk 10 feet or so, think about turning around, keep going, open the car and drop the boxes in the trunk. Debated going back, saying something and seeing what’s what.

I don’t really care about the bags. I have plenty, who doesn’t these days? Not having reusable bags feels like the grocery equivalent to not wearing a mask when you should or be getting the vaccine. Just use them and just do it.

Walking back, I say thanks but no thanks to a kind woman who offers to take the cart back to the store.

“How nice,” I think, “versus the girl with my bags.”

After returning the cart to its proper place – there’s another lesson there, especially to the lazy folks who decide to leave their cart randomly in the parking lot – inside the store, I walk out the exit again.

The teenager, still with bags but lower on her arms, is joined again by her mother.  

“Hi, remember when I told you in line that I lost my grocery bags and couldn’t figure it out?”


“I figured it out, those are my grocery bags.”

I pointed to the bags. She looked at the bags, the teenager looked at me. I paused and waited for a response.  

“Oh, do you want them back?”

“No, that’s ok, you have your stuff in them. I have more in the car and at home.”

“They were just sitting in the bottom of the cart when we walked in the store.”

If she didn’t say that I would have walked to the car and skipped the chance to have the last word. It looks confrontational in black and white but if I wasn’t wearing a mask they would have seen I was smiling and laughing at the situation that felt like part of a Seinfeld episode.

“So let me get this straight. You found bags and when I mentioned to you while we stood in line about losing my bags, you didn’t put two and two together and think, ‘those must be his bags?’ ”

“I guess not.”

I’ll probably tell this story for a week, or any time someone mentions something weird happening at the grocery store.

Please explain, if you can.

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