From the Blog

ANOTHER Supermarket Story

I was at the grocery store earlier today and I realized, and perhaps it is my limited interaction with other humans, but the grocery store has been a reliable fount of bizarro blog fodder. Something odd or interesting or disturbing happens every time I go to the grocery store.

I believe it is completely separate from my continuing ill-comprehension of the Fred Meyers stores. On my first trip to a Fred’s, I walked in and saw produce and groceries. Understood. But then I saw TVs. And sometimes furniture. And giant BBQ grills. And big game hunting raffle tickets. And, my head exploded a little.

I might add, this story below may sound, um, insensitive. And I don’t mean to sound insensitive. Unenlightened and juvenile, maybe. And certainly dorky. But insensitive, no.

I was in the checkout line unloading my groceries and I noticed that I was behind a young woman I had seen earlier in the store. I remembered her because it seemed like she was cold, and had tucked her arms into her sweater. It’s raining out and grocery stores can be freezing. So I understood being cold.

But as I passed by her, it wasn’t that she had taken her arms out of her sleeves for warmth, she just had no arms. At all. And then I felt like an ignoramus. What had been mild curiosity turned into a polite resolve not to inspect her any further. I mentally slapped my head for the whole “must be cold” thing. Doofus.

The store was rush hour busy, and I ended up in the check out line behind her. She was pretty, petite and exotic looking. I was doing a very good job at not overtly noticing her lack of arms. As the cashier was checking out her groceries, she stepped out of an open-backed moccasin, curled a bare foot into her purse and deftly fished out a debit card. With her foot, she swiped the card through the card reader.

She was petite. And the card reader is at check-writing height. So, what, 4 feet high? She used her toes to punch in her pin number. Her toenails were painted all cute with a french pedicure. And it made sense to me, because her feet are her “hands.” She was so quick and fluid, that if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t realize she was using her feet.

But I noticed, though I was really trying NOT to notice, that when she was plugging in the numbers on the card reader, I detected an unpleasant odor. And in a half second, I thought how natural that is. She was wearing black leather clogs, it’s raining and damp outside. Of course her feet would stink a little. I have big, wide pancake feet and and my toes aren’t painted all cute and I can’t even balance on one foot. And I’m sure my feet fricken stink too.

She finished up her transaction, nimbly used her foot to put the card back in her purse, and the cashier hung the grocery bag on her shoulder. Again, I was next in line and making a point to NOT NOTICE A THING HERE, but I was kind of quietly honored to see what must be the most normal of daily events, and to see it’s just as routine for an extraordinary person. As she walked away, I wondered if she drove to the store and how she manages it. But I was certain she manages quite well.

As she left, I observed that the unpleasant odor I had noticed earlier had not gone away. For a panicked second, I wondered if it was me! But I realized there was a scruffy, maybe homeless, guy behind me in line and that was where the smell was coming from.

Then I felt bad for thinking that it was the armless woman’s feet that were smelly. She was pretty and graceful and having to do cirque du soleil in order to buy groceries. And I had thought that rank smell came from her dainty, talented feet.

I sent a silent, blazing mental message to guy behind me, “Dude, you need to get your shit together.”


  1. I feel like a failure, I can’t even spread my toes.

  2. Meredith, don’t despair — you’re just differently abled.

  3. I know that woman (not personally). I was on the Green Tortoise with her years ago, and see her around town sometimes. Yep..she drives with her feet. She pretty much does everything you or I can do..amazing.

  4. At least you didn’t open your mouth to say, “Hey! Let me give you a HAND with that!”

    Yeah, that’s what *I* probably would have done. Always so insensitively helpful, that’s me.

  5. And I thought I was cool because I could pick up a racquetball with my toes…

  6. OK – I know this is a little late to be posting on this entry, but I JUST now read it by following the link here.

    I swear I saw this woman at the McTarnahan’s Tap Room (or whatever they call Portland Brewing now). We went for dinner and were seated outside. I was facing a table of about 6 youngish people who were just ahead of us in the dining process. I noticed the woman directly in my line of vision (she was facing slightly away from me) because she was so beautiful and graceful and she was slightly exotic looking.

    The group seemed to be having a very good time and like you would expect, they were talking and laughing and very animated. The woman was talking and laughing (very hard at times) gesturing with her hands, eating salad and then an entree. I specifically noticed that one time just after see took a bite, someone said something that had the whole table laughing and as her mouth was full, she pointed at the guy with her fork and gave him a look.

    I wasn’t staring and really no more than casually noticing her as I ate because of both her location and beauty. At some point as they were getting their doggy bags and she was opening her purse and then wallet and getting her credit card to pay, I noticed that she had no arms and had been doing all of this with her feet.

    I was stunned and really could not believe what I was seeing. She had caught my attention by being the most graceful person there, and then to realize she had done it all with her feet just blew me away.

    I just wished I would have notice earlier so that my husband could have stared at her too :)

    Would you mind emailing me your currant address? I have 2 friends/relatives who are currently looking for new apartments in inner SE/NE and it sounds like the place you live would be exactly what they would want and I could totally see either of them moving there. However, both are pretty wimpy and would be completely freaked out by the homeless guys at the front door (and honestly, I would be really *pissed* about the guy peeing on the door mat). I want to warn them to avoid your place and also of the pitfalls of living on a busy commercial street.

    I’ve knew the Motel 6 on Powell was a bad place for a long time and used to drive by everyday and think about how strange it was that they had a parking space dedicated to the police. But, when my cousin was looking for a hotel to stay in near my old house (SE 11th and Rhone and very cool and currently for rent), I just sent her a link to your post about it. I included some recommendations for other places, but she decided to not spend the night at all here in town :(


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