Going to the grocery in town has become one of my favorite errands. With my purse stuffed with reading and a grocery list, I head over to the store, grab a cup of tea, and sit in the cafe. Usually I enjoy my tea while reading, and I had planned today on delving further into C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, but the elderly man to my right kept unintentionally interrupting my train of thought. He offered easily overheard statements, thanks to a volume that I assume comes from being hard of hearing, that gave even the late Lewis a run for his money. I dearly wanted to snap a picture of him, but I thought snooping on his conversation was enough of an invasion of privacy and I didn’t want to stoop to the level of paparazzo. But, just so your mental picture is complete, he looked like this:
I was able to type some of his “grumbles,” as he called them, into my phone as he spoke to his companion, all the while trying to look nonchalant and hide my grin. Some are just elderly grumbles, others are thoughtful. All of them made me smile. Several of his statements were too long and thoughtful for my fumbling thumbs to type, but I enjoyed them nonetheless. Unfortunately the woman accompanying him spoke too softly for me to hear most of the time, but her responses were spoken through a shy smile. I thought it was his wife at first, until they parted ways. Anyway, here are a few direct quotes from the man at the grocery, in the order they were spoken.
“Noise. Too much noise in this world. Have you been to a village fair recently? Too noisy to enjoy yourself. But that noise, it’s all they work for. It gives them meaning. The main fear of modern man is peace and quiet.”
Well said, in my opinion. I’ve noticed, as I am often home during the day, that I like to have noise: the television on in the other room, music playing on my phone, etc. when often I’m not even listening. I don’t think noise is necessarily bad, but do we always need it? As I sit here and write this, all I hear is the wind blowing the tree outside and a faint wind chime. No noise. It’s lovely…
(Wait. Does that mean I’m getting old?)
“I’m 90 years old and fit as a fiddle! I’m done grumbling now… I do sing in the bath. That’s my only failure.”
Can’t you just picture this man? Not in the bath, but just in general. It was difficult to hide my giggles at that line. His companion blushed and quickly changed the subject to the weather. She said it was supposed to start raining today at 4.
“I could get a walk in then. Just. Are they that exact that they can say 4? It could be 2 or 6 even!”
I type this at “half 2” and lo and behold, it just started raining.
They sat around reading their papers for a while longer, to the sound of him singing, “Laa de deee, dee dee dah…” etc. until he announced,
“I’m now going to make a prime demonstration of getting off a chair without making a scene.”
She giggled as she watched him walk away.
Having returned his teacup to the counter, he began his goodbyes, only to be distracted by a newspaper article on the recent republican convention and welfare.
“There isn’t enough resources in the entire world to make every man satisfied, at least not to the American standard. It doesn’t matter what you do.”
And then later,
“The politicians can see that far [miming about 2 cm between his fingers] and no farther. The furthest they can ever see is to the next election. Anyway, goodbye.”
And with that, he tapped the table twice with his finger tips and turned away quickly. It caught his friend by surprise. She turned to face me as I remained staring where he just stood. Raising her eyebrows slightly, she gave me a polite smile, dropped her newspaper, and left as well, heading in the opposite direction.
Of the thirtysome people crowding in that grocery cafe, those two stuck out to me, and I seemed to be the only one to notice them. I missed their presence after they left, and said a quick prayer for them. A strange but memorable interaction. Wisdom from the grocery.