Maybe it’s because I find food shopping boring but years ago I “invented” something called Specky Eggs. This involves choosing the speckiest eggs to fill my egg carton with. ….And that’s it. Not exactly challenging is it?In my defence I will say that I find something very visually compelling about specky eggs in the same way I find frogs, hedgehogs and strange shaped fish compelling. I am not sure what this says about me, probably that I am a bit simple. Or that life is in the small things. Certainly the big things seem to cause more grief than other. All in all I have to say that specky eggs give me an inordinate amount of pleasure.
So I was in the supermarket this morning and I chose my specky eggs. There was a poor selection today and I was a bit disappointed. I meandered around and got what I needed and headed for the check out.
Being Friday the supermarket was busy with people, racing around filling up their trolleys before they had to collect the kids from school. The sun was streaming in through the plate-glass windows, block printing the red pillars with orange, setting the sweet wrappers and fruits aglow and people were chatting, greeting eachother.
As I stood at the loaded check out I happened to glance around at the display of ready meals. A young man was leaning over them considering. He was older than I at first thought, maybe in his late 20s or early 30s, his thinness letting him off a few years. His face was pale and drawn and his dark eyes seemed sad to me. He could have been shopping for more than himself but the basket and the size of the meals suggested not.
I know that each path in life has its own difficulties, life is tough and loneliness is common and suddenly I saw a world in the reach of his thin blue hand as he deliberately and slowly chose a meal and put it in his basket while all around was colour and noise and chatter.
It was a sort of poignant moment but it wasn’t pity that I felt. After all here was a young man shopping for himself, giving himself the care that he deserved and his very act of reaching into a freezer cabinet spoke volumes for the bravery and stoicism of many who live without witnesses.
So not pity I think but more gratitude on my part at the unexpected gift from the world of one of those moments when there is such clarity to thoughts and feelings that even standing at a supermarket check out can make you glad to be alive.