An elderly woman confessed her alcoholism to me while we waited in the checkout line at the grocery store this afternoon.
I ran to the grocery store this afternoon to pick up fixings for a salad. And to restock the wine rack. While I hate the big box grocery store lifestyle I'm living right now I LOVE that the grocery store sells beer, wine and all manner of liquor.
The market was a typical Saturday madhouse, with pre-storm frantic water-buying layered on top. As I wrapped up my own chaotic run through the store ("Romaine - check," "Six bottles of cabernet and pinot noir - check," "Ooooh! Pudding - check!") I rolled up to the nearly 250 feet of checkout lanes. Each lane was overstuffed with overflowing carts pushed by overly anxious people. I took fourth place in a lane behind an older woman with a sparse number of goods in her cart. A box of store brand instant stuffing mix, a quart of skim milk, a whole chicken, two apples. She smiled at me.
"I normally never come here on a Saturday," I said,making idle chatter.
"People are stocking up for the storm," she replied.
"And, the embarrassing thing is," I continued, "I'm only here because I wanted to stock on on wine before the storm."
She said, "Well I certainly understand that! There was once a time when I really enjoyed a glass of wine." She waved at her cart, free of potent potables. "Not anymore, I stopped when I started to think that maybe I was enjoying it too much." She hurried, "Never in the morning, I never had a drink of wine in the morning."
A little flummoxed by the revelation I said, "You must have an enormous amount of will power. That's a strength."
"Not will power, prayer," she replied, unpacking her cart onto the conveyor belt.
"Then you have God."
"Yes, I have God," she said as she pushed her cart forward.
I am nearly always amazed at the depth to which people reveal themselves in these types of random encounters. And I am always grateful for the reminder of the fundamental human desire for connection with other people.