Grandmother and I took Uncle Pat grocery shopping today. Boy, was that an experience.
Before I begin, let me introduce you to Uncle Pat. He's Dad's brother, in his early sixties, and has been married and divorced three times. Since divorcing for the third time, he has moved and taken to smoking even more than usual, meaning his house now has the distinct stench of cigarettes. In some order, he gained a lot of weight, had to start using oxygen tanks to breathe, and had to quit work to live on disability, and thanks to this he basically just sits and watches television all day. I haven't completely decided what causes what, but it's a miserable cycle. Because of this, Grandmother usually does his grocery shopping, which consists of him riding in an electric wheelchair at Walmart while she follows with a shopping cart and takes what he wants and puts it in the cart. This does a number on her too, though, and wears her out for a couple of days after the trip.
So today she asked if I'd go with them. She'd sit in the front while we shopped, and I'd walk around the store with Uncle Pat and grab everything for him. This sounded like a plan, though Jeffrey, who had done this before, warned me that it'd be interesting.
Grandmother called me four times before I got out of bed. I told her when I'd be up, but I guess she assumed that I'd be up and ready to go immedately, which definitely isn't the case. Either way, on the fourth call I was in the bathroom washing my hands and ready to eat breakfast. I called her back, and she said Uncle Pat would be ready at eleven. I looked at the clock. Ten fifty-five. Okay, fine. I grabbed a granola bar on the way out (along with my purse, The Color Purple, and an umbrella that I definitely needed) and went to Grandmother's.
When we arrived at Uncle Pat's, he still wasn't ready. And by not ready, I mean that his shoes weren't on (a challenge for him these days), he hadn't taken his medicine, and he had no grocery list. We talked through the things he needed to do today: go to the bank, pick up his medicine, pay the light bill, get cigarettes, and of course, get groceries. "You have an ID on you, don't you?" Uncle Pat asked me.
"Yeah, but I'm not getting you cigarettes," I replied. I will do many things for him, including grocery shop, but fueling the demise of his lungs is where I draw the line. Considering he was smoking a cigarette when Grandmother and I arrived and had smoked that cigarette and another one before we left, I think I had a good reason not to. That and I like fresh air to breathe in. Grandmother said she'd get them, and she handed me a legal pad and a pencil that looked like it had been chewed on. Why didn't I bring my purse in with me? I thought. I scribbled down the list that Uncle Pat had dictated to me, which took up the entire sheet. Then he told me to get his medicine.
"It's in the microwave drawer," he yelled over the television. I looked in the dining room. Sure enough, the microwave stood on a stand, and on that stand was a drawer. I looked in it. No medicine.
"No, not that one!" Uncle Pat yelled from the living room. "The one in the corner!" I looked around, and sure enough, there's a chest in the corner. I yanked the drawer open and started prowling through it before I realized I had no idea what I was looking for. I asked. "It's green and white," he yelled back.
I looked around. Green and white. Finally I saw a green and silver thing next to the drawer that looked not unlike a champagne bottle except it was green and silver and opaque. I showed it to Uncle Pat. "Not that!" he yelled.
"Then how big is it, and what's the thing called?" I asked. He told me, and I went back to looking before finally finding it. Grandmother took it to him, he took it, she put his shoes on, and off we went. We hadn't even left the driveway when Uncle Pat said, "Sujin's going to have to take my shoe off. Feels like something's stabbing my foot." Sigh. Grandmother and I went to the other side of the car to see what was going on. She pulled his shoe off (his foot looked painful), and I shook out any contents of the shoe while Grandmother examined his foot. Nothing stabbing him. I put his shoe back on. Nothing stabbing him. He was fine after that footwise. If anything, today told me I could never be a podiatrist.
Grandmother had almost backed out of the driveway when Uncle Pat told us he had forgotten his cigarettes. He asked me if I wanted to go in and get them. "Not really," I replied, surviving the second test. So Grandmother went inside, grabbed the cigarettes, and handed them to him. Finally we were on the road. She dropped us off at Walmart, and she went to run his other errands for him, minus the light bill. (Personally I don't see why she could have done that too before picking us up, but oh well.)
Uncle Pat grabbed an electric wheelchair, and I grabbed a shopping cart. We got his air conditioner filters and passed the cheap sandal aisle before entering the grocery section, where he bought a pair. Then we weaved through the aisles where he told me to get whatever he wanted, whether it was on the list or not.
By the end I was nearly pushing my weight in shopping cart. I'm not exaggerating by much. He asked me if Grandmother was back yet, and if I had her number. I said no and yes. Five seconds later I was still keeping up with him. "Have you called her yet?" he asked.
"No, I've been trying to keep the cart out of the aisle," I replied. And true enough, during most of the trip, I had one of two options: stay behind him and block groceries, or stay beside him and block the aisle. The former seemed less evil, so I often chose that. I let Uncle Pat look at the bakery goodies while I called Grandmother to tell her that we were finished, and was she back yet? Yes, she was! Yay! We checked out, and Grandmother and I loaded the groceries in the car while Uncle Pat waited in the front and a lady about Grandmother's age waited the entire time for Grandmother's parking space.
Then we went to pay the light bill, which was uneventful until the light bill was actually paid. That's when Uncle Pat noticed that Grandmother had gotten the wrong cigarettes. You know, because there's a huge difference between Ultra Lights and Ultra Light 100s. Apparently the Ultra Light 100s are
We returned to Uncle Pat's house to unload groceries. Grandmother transported stuff from the car to the steps, I handed stuff to Uncle Pat, and he sat on a stool in the kitchen and put stuff in the fridge, freezer, or cabinet. I moved anything that needed to be moved.
Grandmother and I were about to head out when I mentioned my hunger. (Well, what did you expect? It was far past two, and I had eaten only a granola bar and drunk a wee bit of water.) Uncle Pat handed us twenty-five dollars and told us to get some lunch at the Choo-Choo. Oh, and he wanted two cheeseburgers. We got that (along with some chicken strips for ourselves) and returned. I ran the burgers in to him and told him that if he didn't want the change, it was in my pocket and it was staying there. He said I could keep it.
On the way back home, Grandmother asked me if he had paid me. "Just the change," I told her. When we stopped at an intersection, she handed a bill to me. I tried talking her out of it, but she told me that I saved her a lot of walking. And so I did.
And that was that.