A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Supermarket

Before the ink was dry on my holiday request form my Dad had already planned how I was going to spend my precious five vacation days. One of the most important errands he had lined up for me was finding him a new garden bench and as my Dad is a canny Yorkshireman I knew that this would not be a “one stop shop” event. Obviously I had other more relaxing plans, which involved a deck chair and several glasses of wine, earmarked for my leave other than spending it as a bench test technician.

As the supermarket run was the first item on the agenda, I was despatched by the old fella with strict instructions to fill the tank up with petrol on his old jalopy and to check the tyre pressure and oil en route. Feeling somewhat aggrieved, I called into the village garage and proceeded to get the tyre pressure check out-of-the-way as I finished a car pulled alongside me and a cheery senior citizen got out to enquire whether the machine was easy to use and if the beeping sound that indicated the tyres were filled, loud enough to hear. As the garage was situated on the main road into the city, I offered to assist the gentleman with the task in hand. Once completed he confided in me that he was ninety and had reached that grand old age by avoiding hard liquor and wild women; I felt duty bound to point out that he was currently in the company of one who was becoming wilder by the minute owing to my Dad’s ever increasing demands.

Once at the supermarket, as instructed I purchased the roll on gel weed killer that the old fella had requested in his war against the Snakeshead which grew in abundance within our garden; think he was a bit worried in case my mother was tempted to make some jam with the poisonous berries and put it in one of his sandwiches! As the checkout operator packed it with the rest of my shopping I asked if she would wrap it separately, not wanting to it to contaminate any food purchases, as I was too young to be orphaned and besides after the garden bench debacle and all the complaining I had done I would probably be the main suspect should either of my parents expire prematurely in suspicious circumstances.

On the return journey I called into a new Beauty Salon that I had noticed on the way home from work one night so thought I’d call in for a brochure as I felt that a little pampering would not go amiss. Once inside, the interior reminded me of the Turkish salons I had visited and I soon realised I was the only customer. An immaculate lady with a heavily middle eastern accent introduced herself to me as the owner, Hami. I booked an appointment for the following weekend for a facial. She placed her hand on my shoulder and remarked that I seemed stressed – no kidding! She guided me towards a chair and said as she wasn’t busy she’d give me a free Indian Head Massage which would help me sleep. We chatted as she efficiently massaged my aching head and when I asked how she came to be living in the UK, she confided in me that when she was a small child her family had fled Iran during the conflict in the middle of night when they were lucky to escape with their lives after their home was bombed and she and her siblings received horrendous chemical burns. The medical treatment they received was at best inadequate as is often the case in war-torn situations but her parents were determined to give their children a better life so they all escaped into Turkey where they spent a few weeks living rough. She recalled sleeping shivering on the ground during a thunderstorm when the rain and cold soaked their clothes.

Suddenly my increasing list of grievances seemed petty and trivial. I remembered my Grandma frequently saying to me “stop focusing on how stressed you are and instead remember how blessed you are” when I whined about some minor childhood injustice. Funny how it took a complete stranger to remind me how very lucky I am.

Needless to say I returned home remorseful and determined to be less impatient.

Arum maculatum aka Jack In The Pulpit, Snakeshead, Adder's Root, Devils & Angels

Arum maculatum aka Jack In The Pulpit, Snakeshead, Adder’s Root, Devils & Angels

33 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Supermarket

  1. amazing the characters we meet in our day to day. sounds like she was destined to be in your path that day…i’m glad you took advantage of her offer because you left with much more than you entered with. oh and…jack in the pulpit huh? Arisaema triphyllum. they are not weeds here…they grow wild in the woods where I grew up, spent many a happy Sunday with my own ‘old fella’ looking for them. quite lovely too. perhaps there’s more to be gleened from the garden too? xo


  2. Like Rhonda said – sounds as though the fickle finger of fate put Hami into your day. It takes something like that sometimes to remind us how blessed we all are 🙂

    Hope your Dad is in fine fettle 🙂


    • I’m a great believer in fate and think that all people cross your path for a reason. The old fella is a bit blue (despite your wonderful picture) because this will be the first one in years when he hasn’t submitted his dahlias in the village show


  3. I just loved this, not only the lesson in the story but the fantastic humour with which you wrote it. It set my day off with a huge grin. :):)


  4. Part of this experience with the war torn refugee I suspect is simply human nature.
    We get in a car wreck and barely escape with our lives and there on the spot resolve to never get aggravated about the ‘small stuff’ ever again. But two weeks later we are right back to being annoyed when someone pulls out in front of you or you have to wait for a few seconds for someone that seems to take forever to back into a parking spot.

    So how did it go with the bench?


  5. There is so much suffering in the world that it is easy to become indifferent to it when we see it daily in TV newscasts but it puts it in perspective when you hear a story first hand. Yes our lives may be stressful, traffic is a nightmare, broadband runs at snails’ pace, our politicians (SA) are corrupt, crime is a problem in our neighbourhood but to paraphrase your grandmother “we are more blessed than stressed” compared to millions of people in the world. Thanks for the reminder, now go and find that special bench so that you can relax on it with a glass of wine and count your blessings 😉


    • You are so right we have become desensitized to violence for various reasons but I really think that sometimes we are destined to cross paths with someone who reminds us to count our blessings which I will do when I’m sat on the garden bench on an evening with a glass of my Dad’s dubious dandelion wine


  6. Isn’t it funny, somehow we are always finding our way to those who help to remind us we are fortunate. Your da, he is a hoot and a half. You didn’t really want that garden chair and wine, did you?


  7. What a great daughter you are, helping out your dad. And all it takes is one worse sob story to make us realize that our problems are not as bad in comparison. Though I know I tend to get stuck in the frame of mind that “my problems are bigger than anybody else’s.”


  8. First world problems…we’re faced w/ them everyday. As soon as I realize I’m complaining about something that someone else would love to complain about I stop and give thanks for all my problems. Oh, and grandmas are the best.


    • Hello & how is your new life? The facial was great but apparently the skin regime has to be kept up and sadly that only lasted two days as there was always some two or four legged family member waiting to be fed


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