Carrots, Anyone?

It started in line at the grocery store.  And since I live in a very small town with only one grocery store, it quickly escalated into one of those uncomfortably memorable moments in life.

I was waiting for the cashier to finish ringing up a six-pack of Vernors when I heard it from behind me – that unmistakable sound that any mother can identify at any distance: Gag, splatter, and a pitiful little cough.

I didn’t need to turn around to confirm that my son had just defiled the checkout lane at Wagoner’s Grocery Store.  But as usual with me, there is so much more to the story than just the tale of a seven year-old vomiting in public.

You see, I had just interviewed for a job at that store a few days earlier.  My job at the school is about to end for the summer, and I am in a full-out state of panic because I can’t find employment anywhere.  The government says I am not disabled, but I am having one hell of a time finding anyone who will hire a forty-nine year old former hairdresser with a twenty-pound lifting restriction. Every job, even basic cashiering, requires a certain amount of lifting.

So I’m not disabled, but I’m not physically able to get a job. Go figure.

The manager at the grocery store was very honest with me. She liked me and thought I’d be a valuable addition to the team, but . . . what if a customer had a 25-lb bag of dog food or some other heavy item that had to be lifted back into their cart? I told her that I understand, and I really do understand; nobody can afford to hire an employee who can’t do every aspect of the job.  I assured her that I would still continue to shop at the store and there would be no hard feelings. After all, it’s a small town.

Remember that.

When the school called to tell me that my boy was feeling sick and needed to be picked up, I really didn’t think he was all that sick. He said his tummy felt bubbly, but there was no fever. He certainly didn’t look sick, but I’ve learned over the years that a bubbly tummy should never be ignored. I’ve also learned that the best treatment for a bubbly tummy is a few sips of room-temperature Vernors.

vernors

Okay, for all of you unfortunate souls who have never experienced the joy that is Vernors, let me explain. Vernors is the best ginger ale in the known universe. Don’t argue with me that you know of something better; Vernors is simply the best. It just is. Any Michigander will agree.  And any Michigander will also tell you that Vernors has medicinal uses during flu season. Whether it’s the carbonation or the ginger or just the firm belief that it really works, Vernors always seems to do the trick.

vernors2

But my boy is only seven; he was not old enough to leave at home or in the car while I ran into the store for his Vernors. I took him in with me, grabbed a six pack for him and a Diet Coke for me, and headed for the register.

Where the new cashier was being trained for the position I had so desperately wanted. She is the mother of one of my daughter’s friends, and I was so happy to see that she got the job. She has more kids than I do, and I know for a fact that she is one hell of a hard worker with a reputation for being a fantastic employee. I can’t think of anyone in the world who deserves the job more than she does.

In fact, I was in the process of opening my mouth to congratulate her when Young Faithful blew behind me.

I grabbed the child as he let fly with a second stream of partially-digested carrots. I started apologizing profusely and asking for a mop while simultaneously trying to swipe my debit card. And like any good mother, I was also desperately fighting the urge to join the Puke Party. I mean, let’s be honest here. When it comes to parenting, I am not one to gently rub the puker’s back while murmuring words of comfort. No, I am more of a “If you’re gonna hurl, hurl that way” kind of mommy.

I have to say that the grocery store staff reacted admirably. They cleaned up the mess and told me they hoped my little boy felt better soon, and they have asked about him every time I have gone into the store since then. Everything about that store has just gained about 100 more points on my personal rating scale for a business. They are all such nice people, so professional and caring toward every customer, even the ones who decorate the floor with a slightly used lunch.

On the other hand, I am now the woman who let her sick child blow chunks all over the woman who got the job I wanted.

I have just officially forfeited all rights to ever again say anything to anyone about being a good sport.  About being gracious. About accepting defeat with honor and dignity.

And I may never eat another carrot.

This is a Finish The Sentence Friday post: “It started in line at the grocery store . . . ” hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, Nicki from Redboots, and Dawn M Skorczewski.  Please take a few minutes to check out what some of the other bloggers did with this sentence!

Bombs Away

I’m about to reach a new professional low by discussing something that happened to me at Wal-Mart a while ago.  Hang on, folks; A.J. is about to go lowbrow.

I didn’t realize there is a name for what happened to me.  Actually, I didn’t even realize it was a thing that needed to be named.

We had gone to Wal-Mart as a family on a Sunday afternoon, as we often did back when my ex and I were still together.  Say what you will about Wal-Mart and the type of people that shop there, but a trip to Wal-Mart can be considered a family social outing for those of us who live in towns with less than 500 people.

The Big Guy took the boys to do whatever it is that the male of the species does when released into the wilds of a Wal-Mart.  I only know that this involves toys, electronics, automotive, sporting goods, hardware and the clearance aisle – all in the amount of time it takes me to say, “Oooh, look, BOGO!”

The Princess, who already owns enough clothes to dress the entire continent of Africa, took off for the ladies clothing department.  I hit the nearby boys’ department to look for cheap pants for my youngest, because the child has never yet met the pair of pants that he can’t blow the knees out of in under a week.   I found a shelf full of little boy pants with reinforced knees and bent over to search for his size.

And that’s when it happened.

It hit me slowly, caught me by surprise.  I stood up and looked around, thinking that surely I must be mistaken.  But no, there it was again.

I had a brief Steve Urkel moment.  Dear God, I thought, did I do that?

urkel

Then it really hit, and I knew there was no way that could have come out of my body without my knowledge.

Or quite possibly an episiotomy.

Wave upon wave of stench so strong that the very air around me shimmered like summer heat over a blacktop road.   My eyes watered, my stomach churned; I covered my mouth to keep from gagging, only to realize that this left my nose as my only means of getting oxygen and there was just no way in hell I wanted to breath that in through my nose.

I expected to hear alarms going off at any minute, or for the cloud of toxic gas to trigger the sprinkler system at the very least.  For an instant, I thought about using my cell phone to text the Big Guy to save the children.

I looked around again, assuming that someone nearby must be in the process of taking a crap right there in the middle of Wal-Mart.  But no, there was no one in my immediate area.

No one but me, that is.

There were two women standing a few racks away from me, giving me dirty looks and waving their hands in front of their faces to clear the air.  To my left, a tidy-looking gray-haired woman was hauling ass toward the electronics department with a huge smile on her face.  To my right, my daughter was laughing so hard that she was on the brink of passing out.

“What the hell just happened?”  I demanded.

“You got fart-bombed, Mom,” she giggled.

“Excuse me?”

“Fart-bombed.  You know, when you’re in public and you’ve got to fart, so you look around until you see somebody who looks like the kind of person who would fart in public,” she explained.  “Then you walk behind them and let it go and just keep walking, and everybody thinks it was the other person, not you.”

I thought about the little gray-haired woman.  Well, that certainly explained the smile.   I’d be smiling too if I’d just released something that noxious from my body.  Good Lord, that poor woman probably felt as though she had just given birth to a 20-pound alien baby.

“Well,” I said, “She’s either heading for the Women’s’ department for new underwear, or the ladies’ room to wipe.”

Then a thought occurred to me.

“Wait a minute.  You’re saying that I look like someone who would fart in public?”

“Well . . . .”

“Seriously? That woman blasted one out behind me because I look like a good person to blame for that?”

My daughter is no fool.  She said the only safe thing she could possibly say at that moment.

“I love you, Mommy?”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I now wear only formal attire to my local Wal-Mart. Ain’t nobody gonna fart-bomb a woman in heels and pearls.