Saturday, January 28, 2006

Adventures in Aisle 9

One day long ago, I saw an older man standing alone in an aisle of our neighborhood Kroger’s grocery store. His eyes were wide open. His mouth hung open. Was he confused? He was riveted in place. Was he lost? I decided that he was horribly disoriented and probably needed medical help.

I bravely spoke up quietly. “You alright? Need some help?”

He glanced at me. He tried to speak, but only managed, “Ungg…hawder? Ungghawder!” His flailing, outstretched arms didn't know where to point first. He didn't know which way to turn; what to do; how to react. I stood close by him and looked for another shopper to go find a manager. Suddenly however, several noisy, worried family members came clattering into the aisle. In another language they all jabbered at him like North Texas blackbirds. Everyone seemed relieved, and gently led the man away. The last I saw of him, he took one last insane look over his shoulder, his stunned eyes ablaze.

After the dramatic rescue, one of his nieces came up me. In excellent English she told me they were Russians. Her uncle grew up in a poor, rural area of their country. He arrived in the US only a couple of days earlier and was in an American grocery store for the first time.

He had never seen an aisle dedicated to dog and cat food.

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