Julia likes those special shopping carts. At Giant Eagle and Lowe's they're the stretch limousine of buggies. The decals indicate you're driving either a rocket ship or a Nascar. Really, they've welded twelve carts together to create a beast that cannot fit through a standard width check out aisle.
Target has the mother of all, a wheelchair/cart combination mobile. You could push two adults around in the special Target cart though the safety warnings discourage it. I frequently strip the end cap display right off the aisle as I attempt to maneuver through the store.
Fortunately, on Monday, we were at a Shop 'n' Save. The special Shop 'n' Save cart is a sporty model with a little truck positioned under a small shopping basket. It's approximately 90 years old, the steering wheel is missing, and it groaned as I pushed it around.
Julia is a tall girl. She resembled a pretzel, her legs twisted into the small truck cabin. Though cramped, she was a happy pretzel girl. More than three hours into a shopping excursion, that was all that mattered.
The grocery shopping was quick, but I was annoyed with how long it was taking us to get home. I rarely go out for more than two hours at a time. This day was taxing my patience. A failed attempt to procure pseudoephedrine for Tim had me muttering under my breath. The little Shop 'n' Save doesn't have pharmacy anymore; therefore, they can't stock the good decongestants. I was looking forward to getting carded. It makes me feel young.
It was at this moment that my tired annoyed self pushed the groaning truck cart into a check out aisle. The guy ahead of us took a shine to Julia immediately. He pretended to clean the windshield of her vehicle, a pantomime that went right over her head.
She was somewhat distracted. The truck cart was parked next to a display of candy. In a moment Julia was holding a pack of tropical Skittles.
"No," I said. "Put those back."
She put the pack back without question.
The man considered my selections for a moment. I had a lovely array of skim milk, boneless, skinless chicken, bananas, carrots, strawberries, and grapes on the belt. I could see him thinking and then he bent down and picked up those tropical Skittles.
"Did you just get a sudden craving?" I asked.
"Yeah," he said. "Gets me through the day."
At that moment, I'd have given anything for the balls to explain to him that we have plenty of candy at home. I wanted to tell him that Julia just finished single handedly polishing off a family pack of Oreos. For the love of her brand new grown up teeth, guy, don't do this.
He handed me the candy. I thanked him and made Julia thank him. He left and now we have Skittles.
Reflecting on the gift later that day, I realized this wasn't about us. It must have made that guy feel good. He's some kind of pay-it-forward random candy buying man. Sometimes taking the gift is the nice thing to do.
Even so, I long for a polite way to say "no thank you" to strangers and family alike. There must be some way to show affection other than candy bars and dollar bills. Surely my niece and nephew know that I love them even when no money falls out of the card.
I thought a lot about the right thing to do if this ever happens again. I don't know. Maybe I did do the right thing. It's just a bag of Skittles. Right?