I love Publix. I often go there when I’m feeling down and low. Something about how nice the people are, how great the store is and how fantastic of a selection they have makes me feel all warm inside.
Speaking of the sales, I noticed they were having a particularly surprising markdown on blueberries, which can get rather expensive—a pint for just $3. Not believing my good luck, I grabbed one of the last containers and headed on my way about the produce section.
There was also a special going on with cherries. They were absolutely beautiful, all shiny and red with healthy green stems. I’ve never had a cherry like that, just maraschino cherries, really. Someone had opened a bag, and they were strewn about the cherry produce section like so many gleaming red baubles. I thought of how people will taste grapes, and I was tempted to take one just to see what I thought about them. I picked one up, but instantly I was worried about what I would do if I bit into this monstrous cherry and it didn’t like how it tasted. I couldn’t just spit it out. I decided to just hold on to it. Not wanting to look suspicious, I maintained the fruit in my hand, casual slipping it into my jean jacket pocket later. Remember this little sequence. I believe it had everything to do with what happened next.
I strolled over the cereal aisle, and then on to the canned fruit section. I was browsing my sale paper to see what great deals were going on through the store, and at some point during my adjustment of the blueberries, the paper, and my purse, it happened: I shifted something the wrong way, and the pint of blueberries tumbled to the floor.
My eyes widened. My mouth formed an “o” of astonishment. The escaped blueberries rolled about like misplaced marbles. I then did the only thing I could do: I shoved the plastic container behind something in the aisle and proceeded to try and kick them away from the center of the aisle. One thing about blueberries I realized: They are round. And they roll. It was like some sort of effed-up pinball game. Lucky for me, not a soul was on the aisle, nor were there any store patrons lurking about at either end. I walked away, quickly, with an incredulous expression on my face. As people began to turn down the aisle, I mumbled “What the heck happened over here? Who would just leave this here?”
I went back into the produce section and found a charming young fellow stacking bags of carrot chips. “Sir,” I interjected. “Someone appears to have dropped blueberries on the floor over in one of the aisles.”
“What? Where?” he responded.
“Oh, I don’t know,” I said. “It might’ve been…Aisle three, canned fruits and vegetables?” I had the location of my transgression memorized. I led him over, and he said “Thanks” and muttered a sigh of disgust.
I quickly walked away, anxious to distance myself from the Great Spill. As I browsed the next few aisles over, I heard the intercom crackle to life.
“MIKE: CLEANUP ON AISLE THREE.”
The mention of “aisle three” made my face flush with fruit-fumbling embarrassment. I stepped quickly, making my way to the opposite end of the store. I heard the request again:
“MIKE: REPEAT, CLEANUP ON AISLE THREE. SOME IDIOT MADE A MESS WITH THE BLUEBERRIES.”
That last part may have been an exaggeration, but I honestly felt like everyone in the store could see me, knew what I did. I was staring off into space at the pasta/sauces section, when I heard someone say, “You doing alright today, m’am?”
I broke out of my daze, suddenly aware that it probably looked like I was staring at this gentleman who’d just spoken to me. I nodded, and it was then that I realized that this fella pushing a garbage can and various cleaning utensils was Mike, heading off to tame the wild blueberries rolling around aisle three. I felt as if his smile was matching with eyes that said, “Yeah, bitch. I know what you did.” I hurried away.
It was about this time while I was visiting the chips/rice cakes/salty snacks section of Publix that I reached into my pocket, and I remember the cherry. I whole-heartedly think that this was the cause of the previous events. The fruit gods were punishing me for trying to get a freebie. I thrust the cherry behind the caramel rice cakes and hoofed it to the checkout.
I’ve not eaten so much as a grape in a grocery store since. It’s too traumatic.