Redemption, Wilford Brimley and Walmart

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The shopping cart wasn’t going that fast. For once, I wasn’t careening through Walmart like a contestant on Guy Fieri’s “Grocery Games,” simply because my cart was weighted down with two large cases of water, two big containers of clothes detergent (so much cheaper in the 255 ounce unliftable bottles), four vats of kitty litter and the usual grocery staples. I just can’t maneuver a cart that big. If anything, my pace was plodding and uncharacteristically slow.

So when I turned the corner into the bread aisle, I was shocked when I almost ran into his cart. Stopping short and looking up, I saw him – short, fat, dumpy, old, his eyes little slits. His white bushy mustache seemed to overpower his drawn, shrunken face.

He shot me a nasty, disgusted look. “What the F^&% is your problem? Jesus Christ! Watch where you’re going! Slow down!”

I don’t do well with jerks. I muttered, “I am sorry, these carts are hard to stop since they…”

He shot me another glare, muttered more obscenities. I turned from apologetic to combative. “What’s your problem? I wasn’t even going fast! You ever push a cart this heavy?”

He gave me one final disdainful glare, a few more choice words, waved me off mid-​sentence and turned away.

I turned and headed the other direction. Then, as is my weird womanly way, I felt the familiar stinging in my nose. Uncontrollably, my lips pursed and my mouth turned down at the ends, eerily resembling “Beaker” from The Muppets. And the tears came. Not little sniffly girly tears. Huge angry ones that blurred my vision in seconds and overwhelmed me, pouring down my face. My nose joined the party. I became a slobbering mess of snot and tears in front of the hormone-​free poultry.

Mean people are the worst. The shock of his nastiness had gotten to me. Crying because of some comments a stranger makes is not exactly an example of female power, but once the tears start it’s almost impossible to stop them.

After about 10 minutes of other shoppers avoiding the weepy lady with the over-​stuffed cart, I pushed my heavy load to the deli counter. I’d just explained to the clerk that I wasn’t that upset about the price of the “honey-​roasted” turkey breast when I felt a tap on my shoulder.

It was him. And he looked awful. A full head of crazy white “Einstein” hair previously hidden under his baseball cap was now exposed and he was nervously wringing with both hands. “Miss, I am so sorry. What I did was completely out of line and I want to apologize. It was not like me at all. I had no right to speak that way to you.”

I nodded, the stupid tears still streaming down my face. Trying to fill the silence, he gently placed his hand on my arm. “I hope I didn’t ruin your day. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. I am so sorry. I am so sorry.”

Finally drying my tears, I readied myself to hit him with a zinger. My turn to shock him, now I had my chance. Where to begin? But his face seemed so much softer, his eyes were a brighter blue than I first noticed and there was something about that moustache. “I like your moustache. It’s kinda sexy. Like Wilford Brimley.”

I wasn’t done. I gave him a little smile, a wink, and after a few seconds of awkward silence, he laughed a big, goofy, loud guffaw that seemed to explode out of him.

We each went on our way — our carts filled with exactly what we needed.

Elizabeth Wiethorn

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and lifetime Pittsburgher who resides in the North Hills. She has worked in adult literacy, at a financial investment firm, as a kindergarten teacher’s aide, as a debt collector, and even as an entrepreneur. Her BA in English from the University of Dayton and her MBA from Duquesne University provide her with the unusual combination of being able to “cook the books” but also write a concise, grammatically-​correct statement denying all wrongdoing. She finds humor in the everyday and loves to laugh, especially at other people. All emails praising her undeniable talent can be sent to .

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