There was a time, not so long ago, when the most common complaint I encountered almost anytime I was out walking or shopping with human companionship was, “Slow down. You’re walking too fast. What’s your big hurry?”
However, thanks to Mr. Parkinson and a couple of strokes, it’s been a few years since anybody complained that I was walking them to death. Now it’s the other way around. I’m the one who can’t keep up and I regularly get a dose of the medicine I’ve apparently been dishing out for most of my life.
When Loretta and I go grocery shopping, instead of struggling to keep with arguably the slowest shopper on the planet, I tend these days to make sure that some bananas get in the cart along with the largest onion on the rack. Then I’ll hit the frozen meat section for a pack of sliced calf liver, the cookie aisle for a jumbo bundle of Fig Newtons (or reasonable facsimile thereof) and, with that, I’m usually done. I track down my wife, dump my stuff in the cart and either go back to the car or find a bench where I can sit and read on my Kindle or whatever paperbook is commanding most of my attention at the time.
Last week my brothers, Keith “Keeter” and Andy came down from the mountains to spend the better part of three days with me, during which time I came to stern realization of the aggravation I’ve been to people trying to keep up with me for most of my life. There’s nothing very funny to the person who is being walked off and left but it happens all the time to me these days.
I had enough sense to simply stay in the car when we stopped at Walmart to buy fish bait one day, but a trip to Lowe’s to get supplies we needed for a couple of home maintenance projects they were doing for me just about did me in. Had I not been such a straggler, I would not have believed that anybody could walk that fast. Bear in mind that they were trying to let me keep up, as does my wife on the grocery runs, but they still ran off and left me without intending to do it.
Trouble is that none of the Adams boys will go down in history for being patient about anything other than waiting for a fish to bite. I figure that my straggling is as aggravating to them as Loretta’s used to be to me. I believe I knew what they were feeling, a combination of pity, tolerance and impatience, and it’s not an emotion I’d like for anybody to feel on my behalf.
So why don’t I use one of those electric carts they have sitting there at the entrance to most stores these days? My answer to that is try it yourself a few times and let me know how things worked out for you when the battery dies on you there in the cereal aisle at about the same time that everybody within 50 miles of the store decided they had to have some Cheerios but your cart was as dead as the calf who’s liver lies there thawing in the little wire basket while your cart has the Cheerios display blocked. One time is all it took for me to decide that it’s much easier to get someone else to do my shopping.
I had insisted on going with my brothers for the hardware purchase by using the excuse that they might have trouble paying with Loretta’s store credit card. Turned out that Keeter swiped the card through the self check-out station and nobody so much as raised an eyebrow. I never use the self check out anymore because I enjoy having conversations with the clerks even if I have to stand in line for 15 minutes to get some air time.
I did, however, have enough sense to stay on the front porch in the shade and out of their way while my brothers reinstalled a second-story, 20-foot-long downspout on our house and reinforced another one.
Th ese jobs were necessary and were only needed because we had hired the wrong contractor to fix our place back up after the terrible hail storm of 2012. This was simply the most recent of numerous such projects we’ve had to have performed because we hired a fellow whose business should be named Wrong Way.
So thank you, Keeter and Andy, for taking such patient care of your big, slow brother.