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Letter From The Other Side: Some Yolk, No Joke

Elizabeth Thompson, writing as Cynthia, offers her doctor some advice, then has an embarrassing accident in the supermarket.

To read more of Liz's deliciously funny letters please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/letter_from_the_other_side/

Dear Del,

What a very windy week. I hope you haven’t experienced any damage around your home and you have succeeded in remaining flu free so far this winter.

I had cause to go to the doctor today. Well of course I did no one in their right mind will go to the doctor without a cause would they? I only needed to renew a prescription but as I sat in the waiting room reading my own book having read their ancient supply of germ ridden magazines lying prone on the rather shoddy coffee tables at least four times, it occurred to me as I watched pale and snivelling people sitting next to patients with congealing smoker’s lungs, that as we shared the stew of viruses and bacteria in the room while waiting almost an hour it guaranteed further business for the doctors. No wonder they have no need to advertise.

When I first entered I sat next to the one patient I thought was free of anything infectious, because he had a very large cast on his left leg. I congratulated myself on my clever choice until he coughed.

Eventually it was my turn to see the nice young man who is my G.P. and explained to him I just needed a prescription. Nothing else was wrong at all.

Needing to feel he was doing his job properly he took my blood pressure and handed out some gratuitous advice in the form of ‘Cynthia, at your age you should exercise more and try to lose some weight.’

We all have a very lopsided relationship with our doctors don’t we? They know all out intimate details and feel quite free to give us advice about all sorts of personal problems but never reciprocate by sharing their own with us .He has accepted gardening advice from me and although I pay him, he hasn’t as yet ever offered to pay me. However I have been biding my time and today he complained to me he had injured a muscle some months ago and it was still playing up.

At last, the opportunity arose. ‘It’s your age.’ I stated as sagely as he blames all my conditions on my age, ‘It will probably keep reoccurring because at your age you are disintegrating like the rest of us.'

He turned and gave me the sort of look that William our psychologist son gives me when he is about to pat me on the head and remind me he will know when to sign the papers to put me away.

Nevertheless I left the surgery clutching my prescription and feeling quite pleased with myself.

From there I drove to the local shops to take part in the weekly drag race around the circuit of the supermarket isles once more.

Life would be so simple for me if we didn’t have to eat. There would be so many more hours in the day in which I could do all the things I enjoy more than cooking.

Mindful of the doctor’s advice and thinking evil thoughts about the growing ranks of the food police who seem to appear on our televisions with yet more rules at least twice a week, I grabbed hold of a shopping trolley, buggy, basket whatever it is they are called officially, because I call them by names that could never be aired in public or during children’s time slots on radio or television.

I was about half way down the first isle when I realized the trolley gods had once more not smiled upon me.

The further I walked the more obvious it was I had a disabled trolley. It had three wheels functioning perfectly and one at the front left which jammed at unexpected moments pulling me up with a jolt resulting in the handles almost winding me as they rammed into my waist…well where my waist used to be. It appears to have gone somewhere else lately. I keep looking in my drawers but it’s never there.

I negotiated the first aisle thinking and hoping it would stop veering left and improve as it warmed up rather in the way my joints do after a warm shower. Also, I was too lazy to go back outside where they were all rammed together in a long row by a young man who works out at the local gym. I plodded on in a sort of sideways walk holding the front of the basket with my left hand and the handles with my right.

Negotiating one of those artistically arranged displays of biscuits which are placed at the ends of the aisles to add to our enjoyment of the shopping experience and to tempt us to either impulse buy or if not, to at least help us find the walk more challenging and to hone our skills.

Shopping has almost reached the stage where it could be classed as an extreme sport.

The second aisle became much harder as there were boxes being unpacked and the amount of space left for the shoppers to fit through was narrow. As I duck-walked down toward the young woman stocking the shelves she moved to allow me to pass which I did with quite a deal of skill but unfortunately as I avoided hitting her I swept the artful display of biscuits at the end off.

It took some time to pick up those which weren’t broken beyond use and replace the stack neatly as far from the corner as possible.

Into number three isle, the basket was becoming heavier and making my progress very slow but there weren’t any shelves being stacked so I felt relieved to reach the end with only knocking three of four things from the children’s undies and socks display onto the floor.

A young mother very kindly came and helped me replace them.

Half way down the next isle the basket developed a problem with the other front wheel resulting in the development of an erratic swerving movement from right to left which almost flattened an old lady standing in a bewildered state as she pondered the large assortment of soups on sale. I missed her with what I considered a growing expertise but knocked an entire pyramid of oranges onto the floor These quickly rolled in all directions between oncoming legs and under shelving. I swore loudly not caring who overheard me and turned to notice the young 'shelf stocker' now appeared to be stalking me closely as I wove my way toward the refrigeration section and its array of glass doors.

The sight of the doors terrified me so I stopped, picked up my handbag and left the trolley where it was and walked to pick up the frozen peas. I didn’t dare approach the gleaming glass with my demonic device.

By now I was becoming paranoid and was sure if I didn’t get out of the place the manager would storm from his office where he was probably watching me on a security video as I slowly demolished his store. He would accuse me of taking part in a T.V stunt of some kind and order me off the premises.

With as much care as I could and feeling my face burning with embarrassment I made my way to the checkout acutely aware the 'shelf stocker' was still watching my stumbling progress. I might have known my day had not finished because in my rush to leave, I dropped a dozen eggs on the floor. They made the most stunning mess of all and I still have splatters of uncooked omelette makers all over my suede shoes and best slacks.

If Kate our dog had been there she would have lapped them up with delight as she loves eggs but of course where are your dogs when you need them?

Other customers were finding their time in the queue more entertaining than the usual fixed gaze into space most people assume as they waited their turns at the checkout.

My lass cheerfully helped me clean the eggs up as a young man with a mop and bucket arrived. Both worked feverishly all the time assuring me it was all no trouble at all and not to worry about it as I fussed and fumed over the mess. I’m sure they were really winking and smiling over the dotty ‘old girl’ as I gave them yet another story to go home and tell people about the silly old 'seniors' they have to deal with every day.

Eventually I was out in the fresh air struggling up the incline of the parking area still duck-walking with one hand on the front and another on the handles and stopping suddenly as one wheel jammed swerving me left and the other took over the directions swerving me to the right. Zigzagging like a drunken sailor I at last made the rear of the car.

Grimly hanging onto the handles I kicked the wheels into angles in an effort to stop the trolley from travelling down the slope and opened the boot to lift the bags of groceries out.

As I turned to place the last one into the boot, the trolley now lightened, slowly moved gaining speed down the incline and pirouetting on its jamming wheel toward an expensive late model car parked a few metres away.

I dropped the bag of groceries not caring in the least what broke as they fell and did a remarkably fast sprint grabbing it just before the metal gouged a line of paint from the side of the doors.

Breathing heavily after all my exertions I walked the trolley, now behaving beautifully because there was nothing in it, back to the ‘RETURN TROLLEYS HERE’ docking station.

As I did this I saw a little dog which was sitting quietly waiting for his owner to come back make some friendly overtures to a woman as she passed. She flicked her foot as if to kick it.

I walked my badly designed and ergonomically disastrous basket up to her as she was about to reach for one of her own and said with a friendly smile. ‘Here have mine; I think it is just right for you.’

She looked a little uncertain but unaware how I feel about people who kick dogs, pleased me very much when she took it mumbling ‘thanks’.

While I patted the little dog, I hoped the demon trolley would give her an even worse time.

During the drive home I resolved to visit a different supermarket for a while at least until my face may have faded from their memories a little or a few other unfortunates had used the same basket.

Being so exhausted after completing such an arduous obstacle course around the shop I decided if my G.P thought I was going to get more exercise he had another think coming!

Love From your thoroughly humiliated ‘flower child friend’




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