Lost, and Not Lost, in Translation


I made a quick stop at Farm Fresh yesterday to pick up milk, cereal, and a couple cases of soft drinks.  I had Meridian with me, partly because I love simply being with her and partly because the trip was a good diversion before her bed time.  As I was leaving, Dawn added a few items to my list, so I made a mental note and had all the more fun talking Meridian through the process of finding our goods.

She stood at the head of our shopping cart, facing in and holding tight (she’s just tall enough that her eyes peer over the edge) — a cute round head with all those corkscrew curls and a grin.  Typical scene:  stop at the produce section and she’d hop off, run to retrieve a tomato, oh-so-carefully cradle the fruit in her arms on the way back, then violently dump it into the cart … all while I stood looking on, uselessly holding an open plastic bag, shaking my head, smiling.

But I’m waxing idyllic, which isn’t even the point.  Post checkout is where the head-scratching began. 

Because I had more items than I originally intended, I put my soft drinks at the very bottom of the cart, under the basket, between the wheels.  I went through the checkout (Meridian swiped the card) and saw that the fellow bagging our groceries had loaded them onto a vertical cart of his own, so that he could wheel them to the minivan for me.  Okay.  I’ve seen Farm Fresh employees do this before, just hadn’t had someone offer to do it for me.  I’m sure it was Meridian’s presence (an armful) that made the difference.

As we were stepping out the door to the parking lot, I lifted Meridian from our own empty cart, and the bagger stooped to lift the drinks from between our wheels.  Ah, so our cart wasn’t empty after all.

“Oops,” I said, “I didn’t pay for those.”

He continued loading them onto his vertical cart.

I tried again, “Hey, bro, those didn’t go through the checkout.  I didn’t pay for those.”  There was a pause.  “I … I need to.”

He stopped, looked at me for a moment, then took up the drinks again and headed for a 10-items-or-less cashier very near the exit.  His vertical cart, with all the groceries I had paid for, was outside in the sun, there for the picking.

I took hold of his cart with my free arm and dragged it behind me to the cashier.  He put my drinks on the counter, I paid (Meridian swiped the card), and I put them on his vertical cart.  He followed us to the minivan and I opened the back.  There were two strollers inside and an inflatable guest bed (we recently had overnight company), so I said, “Wow, there’s really no room here in the back.  Let me open the side door,” which is what I did.

Once inside, I could see through to the back — where the bagger was loading groceries into the rear, where there was no room.  Honestly, the guy seemed normal.  Neatly dressed, good hygiene, lucid eyes.  He spoke English without any noticeable accent.  Maybe his mind was on something else.

I strapped Meridian into her seat and winked at her, “Ich glaube, er versteht mich nicht.  Was meinst Du?” [“I don’t think he understands me.  What do you think?”].  The bagger closed the back and dissolved into the background bustle.  Meridian grinned at me.  She pointed to my recently shaved chin, which happened to have a bit of stubble, and said, “Papi’s kleiner Bart” [“Papi’s small beard”], then giggled.

Nothing lost in that translation.  Meridian is immensely good at bringing me back into focus.  The world can get a little quirky, but so what.  We understand each other.

P.S.  I lost track of two packages of yogurt when I unpacked at home — found them this morning, rancid.  They had fallen behind the bottom stroller.  It’s my fault, of course, because I should have noticed that one of my purchases was missing, but … ah, well.  Farm Fresh has a no tipping policy.  ;)

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