When I retired, I thought: I can do what I want, when I want. No more trying to go grocery shopping on the way home from work. Everyone else in the world does that and is in my way. Irritating and slowing me down. Ever try to go to the liquor store on a Friday night? Yep. Same thing all over again. I don’t want my co-workers to see I’m getting my supply of wine for the weekend. My co-workers don’t want me to see them either. Enough said.
At last, no more trying to squeeze all the running around at the end of the workday when I’m tired, hungry and agitated after a long week. All that I need is a sit-down and a glass of wine! Peace and quiet. Perfect.
Finally, I can get away from the rat race—the proverbial hamster wheel. That’s the same reason I didn’t enjoy Christmas shopping. Too many people; elbow to elbow.; crashing buggies with strangers and trying to pretend I’m not bothered. My focus is on just getting the hell out of there in one piece and getting HOME.
My illusion pointed out some bumps in the road.
One of my favourite pastimes in life is grocery shopping. I love comparing next week’s grocery specials. Don’t ask how that happened. Most females love clothes shopping. I have to be different. I’m not a food junkie but I like to see my larder well stocked. Where / how did I become a grocery junkie? For the life of me I’ve no idea.. My mother didn’t head out to the store just because there was a storm coming. She didn’t worry that we might run out of milk by morning (we were 5 kids). Why did I, even before I had a family? How different were the storms then—and now?
Retirement shopping isn’t anything like I had imagined. Great, I thought. I can shop at 10:00 a.m. or 1:30 pm or 3:00 pm before all those poor working stiffs make a mad dash for the supermarket. At first it looked like a shoe-in. I felt so clever and of course my feet weren’t touching the ground yet. The feeling was almost spiritual. Fruit and vegetable aisles were free of traffice and I loved it. In the bread and cake aisle, things were starting to pick up. I had other things on my mind so all I noticed were more buggies in my way.
In the cereal aisle, I had my first breakdown. A buggy stood blockig my way. There were a few items in it so I figured it wasn’t abandoned. Up the aisle, two souls were wandering , as if losts, squinting at labels while muttering. I’m a polite person; well brought up, so I waited for a moment. I breathed in and out. Nobody knew I was alive / or even there. I cleared my throat. Nothing. I tapped the buggy gently. Still nothing. I started to MOVE the obstructing buggy out of the way—oh, oh. . .
“That’s MY buggy,” a squeaky voice reprimanded.
“Sorry, I meant no harm. I’m just trying to get through. Excuse me.” Suddenly, the spouse shows up at my elbow.
“What’s going on here? Are you alright dear?” How sweet. I didn’t even know the old guy and I felt I should show some appreciation for his coming to my rescue.
“I’m fine. I’m just moving this buggy so I can get through. This old biddy thinks she owns the store.”
He’s holding the old biddy’s hand. But I thought . . .
Oh . . . faux pas?
This is only one example of many. Why don’t all people keep their buggies close at hand and remember they are not the only two ones in the store. Would anyone attempt to drive down the middle of the road just because there was no-one in sight at that particular moment? Hmm. I remember when we were about twenty . . . especially if someone can’t see oncoming traffic. Right now, some people could use a booster chair. Maybe two.
PARKING LOTS AND ROADWAYS
I’ve tried backing out of parking spot at the supermarket, the dentist’s, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker—who cares where. I feel I’m being followed. I have a cell phone now and CAN call the police.
Nice late model car. Nice body (CAR body). Must have just come off the factory floor. . .
“Hold it buddy!” I screech. That’s weird. I don’t see anyone behind the wheel? That car can’t be driving itself. I’m not stupid. I know there are no remote control cars going to pick up groceries.
Oh—is that a patch of hair I kind of see? I push myself up higher in the seat as I turn to squint inside the car. There IS someone behind the wheel. Man or a woman? A child? Nope, I could be wrong but s/he can barely see over the dash. We’re going to crash for sure and I haven’t even moved out of my parking space.
Crap. Retirement is hell. Who are all these people? Why aren’t they at work? Oh, they’re retired too. Retired w-a-y before me? Don’t they have children who can run their errands for them? Don’t their children care about them?
A SHOULDER TO CRY ON?
One day I just couldn’t help myself. I complained to my daughter how difficult it’s been because OLD people keep getting in the way. I explained about blocking buggies, playing bumper cars in the parking lot, non-existent drivers and kings/queens of the road.
My daughter’s smile was like a Cheshire cat’s. All knowing.
“Mom, you do the same things.”
“What are you talking about? What things?”
“You leave your cart in the aisle as you wander up and down collecting things.”
“How can you say that? I do NOT.”
“Yes, you do and I cringe every time you back out of a parking spot.”
“Are you crazy? I do NOT.”
“Mom, you are just like them—the old people.” How humiliating that my OWN daughter feels it’s OK to say those words out loud and way before it’s time. I want to slap her. I am lost for words.
I’m retired now ( five years) but I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m confused. What the hell has been going on?