When I first met Pat (my hubby), he worked part-time at a local grocery store while he was attending college. He loved working at the grocery store – stocking the shelves, bagging groceries – he even enjoyed cleaning and waxing the floors. In fact, even after we were married and he started his career in Medical Records, he worked on the weekends for extra money at a grocery store – which I think he enjoyed a lot more than his ‘real’ job!
I also worked at a grocery store my senior year in high school — although my experiences were much different from Pat’s because I worked in the deli which was part of the meat department. This meant that I didn’t have to do any of the stocking of shelves, bagging of groceries — or even cleaning and waxing the floors. I liked my job mainly because I was able to meet lots of cute college boys – which meant that I loved by job at the grocery store for totally different reasons than Pat!
After we were married, we would go grocery shopping together which made me realize how different our grocery-store work experiences were. I was happy to go up and down every aisle, looking at all of the stuff from which to choose, checking things off my list and in the early days using my coupons to try new things (I HATE clipping coupons – so I never did very good at it! I mostly bought things I would never have tried or even considered if it weren’t for the coupon. Luckily, I stopped using them before I couponed ourselves in bankruptcy!). Pat, on the other hand, saw our shopping trips as an opportunity to help the people who worked at the store stocking shelves, bagging groceries – and sometimes even cleaning and waxing the floors.
I would usually start going down the first aisle with Pat by my side, but by the end of the aisle (no matter how short or long), Pat would no longer be with me and I wouldn’t see him until we got to the check-out. What was Pat doing? I knew he wasn’t lost — aisles only go one way and the store was only so big. After this happened the first time, I started going up and down the aisles looking for Pat. I would find him in one of the first three aisles of the store ‘facing‘ the aisles. In stock boy language, this is when you pull all of the cans, bottles, merchandise to the front of the shelf and turn it so the picture of the food is facing the aisle. It gives the aisle that nice orderly look and allows people to really see the merchandise. I would pretend that I didn’t know him and finish my shopping.
Soon, Pat would join me at the check-out. He wasn’t done helping. He would dismiss the person bagging the groceries and do it himself. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that he always fills the bags so full, you can’t even lift them! He would place everything into the cart, decline an offer to take the groceries to the car and do it himself. Again — the first time he did this, I figured it was because he was bored or in a hurry to get out of there — after all, he must be tired from doing all of that work in the aisles! Then, I watched him go out the car. Pat would get the cart out the door of the store, jump on the back of the cart and ride it to our car! I had wondered why we had parked so far away from the front door and now I realized that Pat liked to take joy-rides on the shopping carts!
Over the years, I worked around Pat’s little quirks when going to the grocery store. I knew that after the first aisle, I would have to wonder around the card section or magazine racks for about 20 minutes while he finished facing the aisles. When he sacked the groceries, I let him carry them into the house and I put everything away. And riding the cart out to the car? Well — I just explained the clerks that he had so little excitement in his life, that this was his one fun thing he was allowed every week!
So does Pat still face the aisles and ride the cart? He has finally stopped doing the stockers’ work and has replaced it with going up and down the aisles to find the weirdest food for us to try – you would think we were back to using coupons for those things! He takes great delight in finding odd items which look interesting — sometimes they are and sometimes they sit in the refrigerator or cupboard until I can throw them away without him noticing.
And the cart ride? He still needs some excitement in his life – so he jumps on the back of that cart and rides it to the car with a big grin on his face! Who would deny him that simple pleasure?