Shopping with the Elderly: Observations and Revelations

Have you ever been at the grocery store the day before a mild weather-related event (emphasis on mild)? Just recently, I went to the grocery store around 11am to pick up a few items for dinner when something startling occurred to me:

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That day, the entire grocery store was filled with the elderly; and I mean the very elderly. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the average age of the shoppers must have been around 120 years old (give or take a few years). I’m talking about REAL OLD, like the shriveled-up wheelchair raisin lady from Spongebob. For those who don’t know, this lady:

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I was only in the store for five minutes before this realization came to me. The old folks were everywhere, and to my amazement, they all knew each other.

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As I wandered from aisle to aisle, even more fascinating things emerged. The chatter among the customers remained consistent in topic, and the total number of topics covered was limited.

I’ve made a quick chart to show the topics covered by seniors in the grocery store:

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During the charade of grocery shopping, many thoughts came to me:

Why is the store so crowded right now? Why is everyone here older than time? Where are all the moderately old people (like ages 65-85)? 

Also, why do so many people have no concept of/consideration for the space around them?

EXHIBIT A:

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(Just kidding, I didn’t say any of that, but I sure wanted to.)

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Then it hit me: an above-average amount of rain was predicted in the forecast for the next day. This explained why all the elders were out in droves at 11am. They needed at least 24 hours to prepare for, you know, the rain. Nesting isn’t just a thing experienced by expectant mothers, you know.

By the time I made it to the check out, I was mystified. I felt like I had traveled to a land where the oldest of the old lived, and this was their grocery store. I walked among them, like some sort of ghoul of youth.

As if the morning couldn’t have gotten any more fascinating, I noticed that all the lines were long, but nobody seemed bothered by this in the slightest. Instead, it was a social event. There was lots to talk about and lots of people to talk with. Long lines simply meant more good conversation opportunities. Whilst waiting, I was able to very rapidly summarize the types of people in front of me. I will shamelessly describe them in a stereotypical fashion for you now:

In Line #1, we have Pauline. She’s 107 years old, and in the “10 items or less” line with 83 cans of Tuna in her cart,  and one container of OxiClean. After all of her items have been scanned, she decides that she needs 3 more cans of tuna, and proceeds to “hurry” back to find the aisle where the tuna lived. She’s gone for 15 minutes because she went down the wrong aisle 3 times, and she ran into her neighbor, Santiago (age: 104), who she already spent 20 minutes speaking with earlier that morning.

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In Line #2, we have Jack (130 years old) and his wife, Virginia (124 years old). They only have 3 items, but they’ve got roughly 400 coupons in a little plastic case. After sorting through which ones were applicable, and hearing the total, they decide they are going to write a check. Keep in mind, the total is $4.32. Virginia insists that she be the one to write the check because she has better handwriting, but alas, she cannot locate her glasses. (The glasses are on her head, but Jack realizes this, finds the mystery humorous, and decides not to inform her.) Jack writes the check and Virginia scolds him for his sloppy handwriting, which gives him another chuckle. They are at the register for a total of 23 minutes.

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In Line #3, we have Mary Anne. A delightfully social woman of 99 years of age, she’s been in the store for almost 4 hours because she won’t stop talking to every person she encounters. Despite being at the register, the cashier cannot finish the sale because Mary Anne is telling a long-winded story about her Grandson’s dog’s hernia. Also, the weather. Also, her own hernia. The cashier has transformed into an apathetic zombie, but Mary Anne doesn’t seem to notice or if she has noticed, she doesn’t give a hoot.

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And then there was me, wondering how I had found myself in this landscape of AARP, hip replacements, and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal. A myriad of thoughts traipsed through my mind. The worst one, was this:

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With devastation, it occurred to me that I must have become elderly overnight, which would explain why I found myself meandering in the seascape of seniors – I had become one of them. I was no ghoul of youth, rather, this was a reverse type of situation where an elderly spirit was trapped inside of me. It all made so much sense. I was there too, picking up some essentials because it was going to rain and I don’t like driving in the rain because driving can be overstimulating for me and rain makes it even harder. I wanted to be home when it rained – with my soup and an intense dystopian novel. Nobody noticed that I was the only person under 95 because the spirit residing inside me is roughly 110.

After accepting my new reality, and paying for my food, my only exit was blocked by a large crowd of farewell conversations; one last goodbye before they all meet again probably tomorrow at the pharmacy or the audiologist. But I was trapped. There is and was only one solution for this type of problem:

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Note: never do this. Unless you’re an employee, then by all means, do this.

Shopping with people who were probably around during the time of the dinosaurs was both a thrilling and frustrating experience. I admire their dedication to shopping the sales and tenacity to staying alive. Also, their humor.

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So quirksters, the next time it’s raining (or going to rain), please head on over to your local food supplier and tell me if this phenomenon is nation-wide or just an isolated event. I need to know.

Xo your old friend, kelly

 

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. OMG girl (emphasis on the younger description of a female) you just get funnier and funnier! I swear you could make reading a dictionary funny AF! You need your own cartoon on the telly. I stopped answering the question ‘How are you?’ or in Northern English ‘Yaw’right?’ when I noticed I was only talking about health probs and getting annoyed at peeps general lack of respect and I sounded REALLY BLOODY OLD!

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