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"Hail Mary": https://www.amzn.com/1684334888
Feeling ridiculous, and well-aware of how ridiculous I must have looked, I concluded that there was little point in continuing my aimless wandering. I parked myself and my mountainous grocery cart in the middle of the aisle and began riffling though my purse for my key fob in hopes that if my car were not too far off a press of the fob would help me locate it.
Though my attention was on the interior of my purse I became aware of a man getting out of his car and planting himself on a spot about ten feet away from me.
"Hello, there," he called.
I glanced up. He looked in his late fifties, maybe early sixties. He had white hair, longish and slicked back, and a short white beard. He was wearing aviator sun glasses, a sleeveless black tee shirt and black shorts. He was of a short, medium-stocky build. In fact he looked like this photo of Willie Nelson, but with shorter hair and minus the head band and guitar strap.
"Hello," I said back at him then turned my attention to my key fob, wondering which button I should press to make my car honk.
He stood watching me for a few moments then he called, in an overly-jovial tone, "How are you today?"
"Fine, thanks, how are you?" I called back, pressing my fob, looking around, straining to hear a honk, and wondering what was up with this grinning old dude.
"I'm fine," he called. After another few moments of watching me he called, again with great joviality, "How could anybody not be fine on such a beautiful day?"
"Yes, it's beautiful day," I said distractedly, my back to him, trying to discern the direction from which I thought I just heard a faint beep.
When I turned back around I saw a woman getting out of his car, which I now noticed was a shiny black Jeep Wrangler. I assumed the woman was his wife. She looked to me like the type who would be the wife of such a guy as this, about his age, also of a short, medium-stocky build, short dyed hair. She wore a green tee shirt and brownish cargo shorts. She was laughing.
"Shame on you, Bob," she laughed as the two walked by me towards the store. "Shame, shame, shame!"
At that moment I knew what was going on with the guy. He'd been messing with me. Making fun of the old lady lost in the Meijer parking lot. I realized I was still wearing the face mask that I continue to wear in public places. I wondered if it was the mask that had invited his mockery. I wondered why I even cared. Yeah, shame on you, Bob, you rude schmuck, I thought as I schlepped my groceries over to the next row and the faint beep I thought I'd been hearing evaporated.
I looked up and down the row and between two cars I spotted in the next aisle over the license plate of my Prius, whose letters and numbers I had, fortunately, memorized in case of finding myself in just such a situation as I was now in.
I pushed my cart as nonchalantly as I could manage back to my car, thanking whatever guardian spirit had guided me to it. I clicked open the hatch back and was preparing to begin loading my groceries when a voice called, "You found it?"
I looked around and saw that the voice belonged to a man sitting in what appeared to be a light grey delivery van parked a few spaces over from me. He looked to be in his forties and wore a blue striped short-sleeved shirt, which gave me the impression that he was likely a delivery person. I wondered how many people had been watching the spectacle of the lady wandering around the Meijer lot looking for her car.
"Yes, thank, you, I found it," said as politely as I could muster in my un-polite mood.
"Are you all right?" the man asked. He sounded concerned. He looked concerned. I wondered if I looked distressed.
I thanked him again and told him I was fine, thanks.
"I saw you looking for your car and I got worried," he said. "I wasn't going to leave until you found it."
I was both embarrassed and touched. If this guy had been watching me then he must have seen the other guy and his wife laughing at my predicament. I told him he was very kind. I meant it.
He offered to help me with my groceries, but I assured him I was fine and thanked him again for his kindness. Then he said the kindest thing of all. He told me that he lost his van all the time in parking lots, and look how big his van was.
As I drove home still feeling a mix of gratitude and idiocy, I imagined the first guy telling the story of how he'd had some fun with a lost-looking old lady in a mask wandering around the Meijer parking lot with her grocery cart. Then I imagined the second guy telling the story of how concerned he'd been for a lost-looking old lady in a mask wandering around the Meijer parking lot with her grocery cart. And then I imagined me telling the story of the two guys in the Meijer parking lot.