Mom brandished her list - "we have to go to Walmart."
"Oh, no," I groaned, "please, not Walmart again."
Turned out, she was slightly testy because during our last trip to Walmart, she felt liked I'd rushed her. Rushed? How the heck can you spend two hours wandering aisle after aisle, lovingly fondling item after item, and feel rushed???
Her solution was for me to take the list this time. "Since you like to go so fast, you can get the things on the list and let me dilly-dally."
I made no effort to put my list in any organized order to speed up the shopping process so that I criss-crossed the store, selecting an item in Cosmetics, then circling back to Electronics, then over to Hardware. I forced myself to walk at a snail's pace. I kept a pen in hand and very deliberately marked off each item as I put it in the cart. I leafed through magazines and considered shades of eye shadow. I spent some time at the Jewelry counter though I had no intention of buying any jewelry. I chit-chatted with a couple of friends I ran into along the way.
Finally, when it seemed to me that no human being could possibly "dilly-dally" in Walmart any longer, I checked out (choosing the longest line just to use up a little additional time).
I wheeled my cart of sacks to the door and surveyed the store to see if I could spot Mom. And, sure enough, there she was. She'd got no farther than the Grocery section! I asked the Greeter if I could leave my cart in his safekeeping for a minute, then rushed over to her.
I looked down at her cart. In it, were all the food items that had been on my list!
"Mom!" I said, "you got all the same things you told me to get!"
"I know it," she agreed, "but I thought you might miss something."
I had not missed anything. I got beans, so did she. I got sausage, so did she. I got a head of cabbage, so did she! She had specifically ordered me to get three packages of a certain brand of English muffins which I had - and so had she. She also had two other packages of a different brand.
"Well," she explained, "I couldn't find the kind I like best at first so I got these instead but then I saw the good ones, so I got them too. I didn't want to waste the time to take the others back".
"TIME, are you freaking kidding?" I thought, but didn't say. Here I'd been doing everything I could to KILL time but she didn't think she had the time to take her muffins back!
There was no way I was going to make the effort to traverse all those aisles again to put all her items where they came from so I told her to just go ahead and check out. If we had double and triple everything, so be it.
"Okay," she said, heading toward the back of the store.
"No," I cried, "the check out lines are over there!"
"I just want to take a quick look at the shoes first."
I took my purchases out to the car, then I came back in and bought a magazine. I read most of it with an eye on the door. About 20 minutes later, she was checking out. Of course, she too chose the longest aisle even though she would have qualified for the express check out.
"Why didn't you use the Express check-out. We could have been out of here ten minutes ago."
"I like to save the Express check-out for people who are really in a hurry," my generous-hearted little mother said.
I told her I'd go get the car. I parked, entered Walmart for the third time, and carried her bags out.
"So, did you buy any shoes?" I asked.
"Oh, no, I never meant to buy any, I just wanted to look."
When we got home, I had to clean out one entire section of the cupboard for English muffins. As I was doing that, she decided to have one.
"The toaster isn't heating up. You're going to have to run back to Walmart and get a new one."
"Oh, geez, you can get along without a toaster for a few days, can't you?"
She shrugged. "Well, if you don't mind watching all these English muffins go to waste."
I went back. Walmart Entry #4. The Greeter probably thinks I'm stalking him. I thought I was prepared for the vicissitudes of caring for an elderly parent but no one ever warned me that Walmart was part of the deal.