Granny Samaritan and the Frozen Steak Stir-Fry

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Close Encounters of the Third Aisle.

A refurbished post from 2009.

The supermarket and I have a love-hate relationship because I hate going. Although once I arrive, I love finding a story down one of the aisles.

“Should I choose door number one or door number two?” I wondered aloud, while in the frozen food section, studying boxed dinners through frosty glass.

A well-dressed elderly woman approached from the chicken pie side. “Those are quite good,” she said, pointing at a colorful package containing an Italian steak stir-fry. “In fact, that’s my favorite. It’s also a filling meal for one. Yes, it’s only me,” she said as her voice cracked.

Then, she turned away and stared out into space or, perhaps, another time in which one stir-fry was barely enough for two. When her thoughts returned back to earth, her eyes smiled with a memory of a moment gone by.

“Yes, the steak stir-fry is quite good,” she sighed, and inspected the shelf below where bags of tangy chicken stir-fry sat scrunched together in a row, as if the stock boy kept adding to a shelf that rarely had anything taken from it.

“Not my favorite. Don’t like really sweet things,” she said, and directed me to the soy sauce dinner to the left of it. “Now, that’s a good one, especially if you like Chinese food.”

“I like Chinese food,” I echoed.

She squinted at the price marked beneath the shelf. “You see. It’s less expensive than that one.” She motioned to the dinners in the case next door. “Too much money.” She shook her head. “I can’t afford that.”

“Who can?” I added.

She smiled and then glanced at my cart. “Looks like you have more than one mouth to feed. The stir-fry dinners are enough for two. If you have more than that, I would suggest buying two bags.”

“That’s good,” I said, and wondered, in a paranoid, skeptical way, if she wasn’t in fact an emissary from a frozen food company, maybe the mother of a CEO sent to supermarkets to help generate sales.

A brilliant marketing ploy but not ambitious enough, unless the company dispatched elderly women to supermarkets all across America. Now that would be brilliant. Who could resist advice from a kind grandmotherly type?

I opened the freezer door, bypassed the chicken, and grabbed two packages of the steak stir-fry.

“Good choice,” she said and shuffled away.

The tangy chicken would have to wait until the next time there was a change in the elderly lady rotation schedule.

Have you had any close encounters of the third aisle?

This was based upon a weekly prompt from Red Writing Hood to revise an old post.

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