Mr. O’Connor & the food store

Anyone that goes food shopping in the early afternoon of a Saturday, when they have a free day during the week, is nuts. Thankyouverymuch…that would be me! And of course, the food store with the best organic section also happens to be the one that every yippie-yuppie goes to. And of course (again), the aisles are jammed with all sorts of goodies, making the shopping cart navigation a memorable experience…something along the lines of a freeway jam up. Add to that children who don’t want to be there, parents who don’t want them there, and the gentleman on the cell phone saying, “I said they DON’T have that! WHAT else do you want me to get?!” It makes for a fun time. She says with great sarcasm.

Occasionally though, one meets up with an interesting person who happens to put a smile on your face. Today was that day.

While standing in the organic bakery aisle reading ingredients on chocolate cake mixes (it’s hubster’s birthday) and trying to determine if the price was worth it since it didn’t have soy and I could eat it, an elderly gentleman in an off-white hunting jacket with all those pockets, comfy pants, comfy shoes and a long white scraggly beard asked me if the character on my sweatshirt was Hobbes of Calvin fame. “No,” I replied smiling, “he’s Tigger of Pooh fame. Though I prefer Hobbes.” To which he said, “You know, it’s impossible that everything in this section of the food store is organic.” No doubt he is correct, but I explained that’s the only place I can find certain items that do not contain soy products. BTW, what is UP with that?

He smiled and grunted his agreement, then continued to explain to me that the cereal name Kashi is Russian for gruel. Now, I don’t know Russian, dear Readers, so I don’t know whether he is correct or not. I laughed, as did he, when he said, “I’ll bet most people who buy this stuff don’t know their eating Russian gruel?!”

I asked if he was Russian. He was not. He continued on saying, “I’m a good ol’ Irish Catholic who the Army thought would be good enough to learn Russian and be a translator in the war. I was just watching channel 84 last evening which had a program all in Russian. And believe it or not, I understood it all!” We chuckled together. I told him about my recent reading of James Bradley’s book Flag of Our Fathers and Fr. Sophrony’s We Shall See Him As He Is. I mentioned that Fr. Sophrony didn’t want the book published until after his death but due to WW2, he agreed to its publication believing that the world was in its last days and people needed the spiritual teaching and encouragement. After I thanked him for his service to our country, we parted, running into one another a couple more times as we wandered through the food store.

It is moments like this that I treasure. They make me stop and take account of each person in the store and the world, wondering about their life experience. What is going on behind the windows of their home, or for that matter behind their eyes, the windows of their soul? What happened this week or month that has caused them grief which shows on so many faces? Why is it so important to be “dressed for success,” even casually, while wandering down the toilet paper aisle? Why do the children in the cereal aisle not heed their mother’s adamant statement, “I’m leaving NOW, with or without you?” (Well…that one I do know the answer to!) It is good to think about these things. It helps me remember that the person who just crashed into my cart is one of God’s beloved children and I ought to treat them, as well as think about them, as He would.

I guess Mr. O’Connor was an angel in disguise.


2 thoughts on “Mr. O’Connor & the food store

  1. What a *lovely* commentary! Definitely one of those moments of grace that crop up in our lives, if we’re paying attention to them.

    “Kasha” is the Russian word for gruel, or porridge, and Kashi cereal isn’t really what kasha is — kasha is hot buckwheat cereal, and it’s eaten a lot as a side dish during Lent, besides. (I keep meaning to try it, with fried onions.) When somebody says, “It’s all ‘kasha’ to me,” they mean it’s a mixed-up jumble of confusion.

    And I do *not* understand kids who don’t leave when their mother does. Mine used to come scrambling right after me, when I pulled that stunt. (Of course, sometimes I did have to “disappear”…)

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