In search of tomato paste

Sitting around one’s home when one is working 40 or more hours a week feels like a luxury. Sitting around one’s home as if that is a 40-a-week job, well, not so much on the luxury side of life is that. As Yoda would say, if Yoda were unemployed and hanging out after knee surgery. Wait a minute, I may be mixing metaphors here.
The point is, getting out of the house (nay, the living room, for that matter) becomes a bit of a thrill, no matter the reason for the departure. Thus it was that going to the local grocery store in search of tomato paste in a tube was akin to something like seeing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time, or getting on that jet to Disney World.
I hobbled out to the car on crutches — the kind that you slip your forearms into and we motored to Albertson’s, which is the grocery that carries a strange mix of food staples and unexpected gourmet items, such as the tube of tomato paste, and imported items like PG Tips tea bags. Albertson’s has one of those battery-powered carts, so I put my crutches in the basket and began following Susanne around the store like a robot dog or Roomba. It even beeped in reverse, which for some reason Susanne did not find amusing in the slightest. I even got an “okay, now, stop that,” from her.
It was a strange contraption indeed. You had to aim perfectly for the produce bags, and then figure out, using trigonometry, how to then get to the specific produce item desired. So if the broccoli crowns were, for example, 16 inches behind you, you could:
1. back up and beep after checking your blind spots
2. attempt a tight K-turn
3. make a yaw maneuever before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere
I also discovered that the scooter had the smallest turning ratio I could have imagined, being nearly able to circle around a quarter on the floor. Not that I could reach the quarter. But I could drive around it in a strange technology-based attempt to be all territorial about it.
We weaved our way through the store, me trying not to knock things over with my crutches in the basket, Susanne gathering up the items on our list. They were out of the tomato paste, much to our frustration. Also frustrating was the realization that people weren’t seeing me, a 300-pound guy in a bright yellow scooter, and I had to stop suddenly more than a few times, lest I run over some toddler or ram into a special display of Multigrain Cheerios. It was a convenience, the scooter, but it also was like entering a new world, and as a tall person, I wasn’t used to seeing my world from this vantage point next to the quarters and the floor, and yet, there I was.
We were in the checkout line, finally, and I realized I didn’t really know when one got out of these things. Before checking out? Just after? Was there a protocol? I got up and crutched out to the parking lot, and heard, distantly, a small child call out to his mother: “hey, I found a quarter! Cool!”

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