Have you been to Fred Meyer lately? What a mess! They are doing a major renovation that won’t be completed until November. Nothing is where you expect it to be and we shoppers can become a grouchy bunch.

They are helpful but not always around when you need them

I think I walked about 40 miles. First I did my shopping, including a few items from the frozen food section. I’ve gotten behind on my giving but was determined to give a gift today. I wandered around for a while, pushing my cart. All kinds of opportunities came and went for a variety of reasons. I started panicking about my frozen stuff and decided to put it back into the freezer and park my cart so I could wander unfettered. Then there was another few miles of walking.

I was thinking I might indulge in one of my favorite treats: fresh carrot juice. Since I lost my sense of small and taste (flavor, actually) I have come to really enjoy carrot juice. If I close my eyes, I can imagine that the sweet creaminess is a milkshake. I started drinking it a lot. So much, in fact, that my skin began to take on an orange hue – as if I had overdone it with the sunless tanner. So I decided to cut back.

I think my skin is starting to return to its normal shade of pale. It has been over a week since I last indulged, and I discovered that my favorite brand (Columbia Gorge – it’s the best) was on sale at Freddy’s.

All out!

Carrot juice is pretty popular stuff and, alas, it was all gone. Probably for the best. A woman browsing the juices pointed out the quart size bottle and I felt compelled to explain to her that I couldn’t buy that: I was on restriction and would be tempted to drink too much. “Good luck!” she offered, backing away.

A few more trips back and forth across the store and I could feel my calf muscles thriving. As it turns out, flip flops are not the best choice for such an endurance event. But I was determined not to give up.

A young couple in the toy section caught my eye. They were clearly looking for something as they headed down first one aisle and then another.

They were on the move

Then they split up to head down separate aisles, and I tried to make conversation with the man. I made a comment about how hard it was to find anything right now, and he agreed politely. The woman came along and brushed past me. Not so friendly. I let them go.

Back on the other side of the store, I ran into a friend and we chatted for a while. If she thought it was weird that I didn’t have a cart or any groceries, she didn’t mention it. As we said goodbye, I saw the young couple again. I decided to give it another shot.

“Excuse me!” I said, stepping up to them. “I’ve been kind of following you around the store!” “Why?” asked the woman. I beckoned that they follow me into an empty aisle. She was very skeptical. “I have something I want to give to you,” I explained.

“What is it?” she asked, clearly not won over by my charm. “Don’t worry,” I reassured her. “I know it seems strange.”

“It does seem strange,” she agreed, glancing at the man and toward the end of the aisle, as if to make sure she had a ready escape. I pulled the hundred out of my pocket and held it out to her. “It’s this. I want you to have it. I’m giving it away in honor of my mom.”

I felt the seconds pass in slow motion. Her eyes widened and a big smile lit up her face. “But…why? This is too much, really, this is way too generous.”  The man chimed in, agreeing that it was too much. “I don’t know if we can take that.”

Daniel and Elizabeth

They told me their names and Elizabeth reached out to me. “Can I get a hug?” she asked. Then I saw Daniel wiping his eyes. “We really are struggling right now. This is a huge blessing.”

Daniel works in a restaurant and Elizabeth teaches yoga. They are barely getting by and neither of them have health insurance. “Just stay healthy; that’s our plan!” admitted Elizabeth.

Elizabeth let me take this photo of her arm

We talked for a few minutes, then I hiked back over to where I had left my cart and collected my frozen items. There they were. “I’m following you again!” I teased. Daniel fell into step with me and asked me more about what I was doing and why. “Really,” he said, “I can’t tell you how much of a help this is. It really means a lot to us.”

I am crossing my fingers for their continued good health. And lots more good luck.







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