| Shelves of packaged food inside a Ralphs grocery store in Los Angeles|
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other day I needed some groceries so I went to the supermarket near my home. It was still fairly early in the morning--a bit earlier than my normal shopping excursions--but I just wanted to get this grocery trip out of the way so I could go on to the other things I wanted to do.
Grabbing a shirt that I'd tossed over a chair the day before, I put it on and plopped my cell phone in the pocket. My mind was a jumble of the things I needed to buy at the store and the things I wanted to do later. I rarely make lists, tending to instead think and rethink my list until I have it pretty well memorized. What that sometimes means is that I not only occasionally forget an item or two that I meant to get, but I also end up getting a bunch of stuff that I hadn't set out to get. That's the way I shop these days.
Today seemed no different than most, a bit cooler and hazier perhaps, but still with every indication that it would be just another beautiful warm sunny Los Angeles day while back east folks were suffering record-breaking cold and snow. And just a few days prior to this one we'd recorded a record-breaking hot day in the 90's. I thought about those weather things while I drove half listening to the talk show on the radio and looking around at the urban world as I passed through it, all the while trying to drive carefully. I looked into the other cars to see who I might see, not to think I'd see anyone I'd know, but just to see what kind of people were in those cars.
After I pulled into my parking space at the Ralph's Market, I sauntered inside noting that at 8:30 in the morning there were less people at the market than at the normal 10 or 11 o'clock hour that I usually came here. A lady with a kid in her cart of groceries was heading to her car. An elderly couple was heading into the store. There would not be that many people shopping at this time of day. Easy in and out would be good and I didn't have that much to buy anyway so that would be fine with me.
So I grabbed a cart and began strolling first through the produce department where I looked at the apples but didn't buy any and then grabbed a bunch of bananas that were on sale for fifty-nine cents per pound. As I made my way through the aisles that mattered to me plucking what I needed off of the shelves, my mind wandered to things like a movie I had seen recently, blog posts that I planned on writing, and what I should have for lunch. I considered buying some kind of chips but deferred on that purchase, but did pick up some coffee creamer that I remembered that I was running low on.
Then finally done with the shopping I pulled into one of the two check-out lanes that were open, loaded the conveyor belt with the few items I had picked up throughout the store, and reached into my pocket for my Ralph's loyalty card to give to the cashier. It was at that moment I made a horrifying discovery. I was not wearing any pants. There I was in my tighty-whities and a shirt I'd pulled off of a chair. At least I had remembered to stick my feet into some shoes before I'd left the house. How I ever forgot my pants was beyond me.
Stunned, I stood for moment feeling utterly idiotic. A lady behind me was unloading her cart onto the check-out belt seemingly oblivious to my presence. From the customer service counter a store manager looked up at me and then returned his attention downward to some paperwork he'd been studying.
"Do you have your Ralph's card?" the check-out clerk asked.
For a moment I just stood there probably looking amazingly vacant and dumb until my feeling of stupidity turned into embarrassed humiliation. "I'm sorry, I left my wallet at home."
Avoiding looking at anyone, I left the store trying to appear as casual as I could but still be in a sort of hurry. Fortunately, I had left my keys in my car and my car was not locked. I got into my car as though nothing was unusual and began to drive back home. This time I was not looking at other drivers. I hoped that no one could see that I was driving without pants. I especially hoped that I wouldn't see anyone who knew me.
No neighbors were in sight when I pulled into the driveway and I scurried into the safety of my own home which is a verified no-pants zone if I want it to be. Relieved to be inside, I heaved a deep breath and stood without thinking momentarily. Then, slowly, like an old machine with giant gears and cogs, my mind started working again.
I wouldn't go back to the store today. We had plenty of stuff to last for days anyway. I thought about what I should have for lunch later on and then for dinner that evening. For now I'd go back upstairs and get on the computer. Maybe there were some comments on my most recent blog post. I'd check on that. Later I should probably vacuum since it had been a few days since I'd last done that.
After the week-end I'd go grocery shopping. There would be more things I needed by then and this time I'd write an actual list. Hopefully no one would remember about me having come in there before with no pants. Come to think of it no one really seemed to notice that I wasn't wearing any pants. I never heard a comment or saw anyone pointing and laughing or anything like that. Probably no one even saw that I was not wearing pants.
A man in the grocery store with no pants on. Just another day in L.A.