I was in a grocery store last Sunday morning. I didn’t really need anything particularly but it was a beautiful day and I thought I could use a little exercise so I biked over to a local place to pick up some fruit and coffee and maybe a little something sweet for that night’s dinner. It wasn’t all that early but it still felt distinctly like morning.
I like shopping on Sunday morning. I saw a family with two young children who were dressed in their Sunday best. Perhaps they were picking up a few things for the company they’d be hosting after church. And there’s something about watching seniors shop that I find endearing. I like seeing older ladies pick through piles of fruit, selecting just the right peach or orange because maybe they don’t eat very much anymore and they want to make their choices count. I find myself wanting to assist older men as they try to decode the complicated labels on packaging, figuring out what has the least amount of salt or what the difference is between diet, lite, and low cal. Sometimes it seems like grocery shopping for retirees is a challenging endeavour. Not a pleasure as much as a necessary evil that may present the week’s greatest obstacles.
It was a beautiful June day on that Sunday morning. Judging by the way people went about their business, you’d never know there’d just been a contentious election a few days earlier. You wouldn’t have any idea that millions had been saddened by a handful of celebrity suicides in the previous week. And there wasn’t any indication that political turmoil can be found everywhere you look.
No, it was just a Sunday morning and folks were going about their business, seeking out just the right food to put on their tables for their families and for their guests.
People were polite to one another, offering to let others in line at the cash. After you, I heard someone say at the deli counter when it was time for the next person to be served. This store had a take-a-ticket system but it wasn’t turned on. Instead, everyone just seemed to know who was next and if there was any doubt, there was an unspoken understanding that the words “after you” was the appropriate solution.
As I looked at the patrons walking up and down the aisles, I couldn’t tell who voted for whom and even if I could, I couldn’t tell you why they voted as they did. Standing in line to pay, within a fifteen foot radius, I saw seniors, young children, university students, labourers, French Canadians, English Canadians, new Canadians, non-Canadians.
We all need to eat. We all feel hunger in the same way. We all need doctors. We all have the same coloured blood. We all love children and we all get old. Rich or poor, on either side of the political aisle, we all walk the grocery store aisle together. And the labels on the packaging are eventually going to become too damn small for every one of us.
But if we’re lucky, and if we stay true to our better nature, there should always be someone to stretch for that can of soup that’s out of our reach or help decipher the small print that may be beyond our capabilities. Because eventually, everyone needs the help of a neighbour.