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To Purgatory and Back - in a Shopping Cart

Updated on May 10, 2020
jimagain profile image

Jim is an accomplished writer with many great literary achievements, most of which he simply made up.


Enter the other side of life

It’s every husbands’ nightmare…my wife sends me out to the grocery store late at night to get item x…which may be something so innocuous as milk or bread, or something so sinister as feminine hygiene products of which I refrain from elaborating on. The latter item being the true test of love only the brave of heart dutifully endure this gauntlet of public shame with all the enthusiasm of a trip to the gallows.

Grocery stores suck the life out of me, with their dreary inner decor. The moment I enter those double glass doors that separates two dissimilar worlds, the ‘whooshing’ sound of the doors seems to extract my soul from me. Suddenly I’m transported to another reality, a dreary place where time becomes indistinct. Maybe it’s the garish fluorescent lights that gives it its surreal quality? Maybe it’s the mind-numbing muzak piped in to mask the pervading ambiance of apathy.

Lifelessly shuffling along in various states of diminished capacity as inmates of an asylum, the paltry assemblage of soulless humanity ebbs and flows along cluttered aisles amongst a peppering of dull apathetic drones they pretentiously call employees. Meandering along endless aisles of sundry products, a cardboard and styrofoam universe of redundancy, we carefully avoid eye contact as we pass. Intrusive forms of interaction are forbidden, lest we disturb the fabric of our meager subsistence.

I catch a glimpse of myself, a reflection in the glass; only to see a grotesque caricature of my former self staring back at me, minus the soul.

Weaving in and out of traffic in a shopping cart with one bad wheel that clatters and bangs along, the pursuit begins.

Clank, clank, clank!

My shopping cart and I wobble and clatter along, like Jacob Marley’s chains being drug behind him. Catching my reflection, I see a grotesque caricature of my former self staring back at me, minus the soul. The din of noise prevails, a cacophony of discordant noises clashing.

Frequently traffic is blocked by a 'double-wide booty' obstructing a 'single-booty wide' aisle. Carts routinely clog congested aisles as shoppers meticulously contemplate the merits of brand x, oblivious to the impasse they cause. I narrowly avoid a five-cart pile-up on aisle three.

A macabre scene

Finally locating the sole article of my late-night quest, I reluctantly navigate to the check out to find winding lines of unimaginative patrons staring ahead blankly, waiting to advance. It’s a macabre scene not unlike the walking dead locked in a holding pattern. Racks of tasteless magazines with ludicrous titles vie for attention for a clientele suspiciously void of cerebral activity, flat-liners on an EEG. For a moment, I briefly contemplate the prospect of mugging someone as they exit the store for any product that remotely resembles the object of my quest; tossing money at them as I sprint away with an overweight security guard in hot pursuit, dough-nut in hand.

Sir….sir?!!! the voice repeats.

Numbly I manage to shred my stupor long enough to see a clerk speaking at me. It takes several attempts to breech the catatonic state I’m in. He’s saying something…his lips are moving.

“All you have is one item? Just go through the express lane at the office window”.

Slowly the sound begins to come in range, but the words are out of sync with his lips, like an old movie voice-over. I stare ahead blankly.

It’s OK,” he assures me.

Clank, clank, clank!

My shopping cart and I wobble and clatter unceremoniously towards the direction he pointed.

Can it be true,” I ask myself? “Have I just been released from this mercantile purgatory?

My former self

Moments later I exit those double glass doors with the resultant whooshing noise, I suddenly feel my soul re-invigorating the corporeal remains of my former self.

And now you know why I cringe when asked to go to the grocery store.

© 2012 Jim Henderson


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    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Haha, and you are welcome! Anytime!

    • jimagain profile imageAUTHOR

      Jim Henderson 

      9 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      Thanks Josh3418 for the generous comments. Being a frequent grocery store zombie myself made this easy to write about. I'm not really sure why my wife refuses to take me shopping or to the gorcery store with her?

      Thanks again!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is an excellent hub, well written and informative! Loved the imagery you used and the descriptive words you chose to convey your message. Great job, voted up, interesting, and funny!

    • jimagain profile imageAUTHOR

      Jim Henderson 

      9 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      It's not often I can claim to have chosen wisely so I choose to relish in this moment.

      Yes, that was a subject matter I was not qualified on to comment. I therefore took the time honored male solution and cowered out of the topic lest I irk the ire of irritated hordes of female readers...not that I actually have many readers to offend but....

      Thanks to fromMarkHall for your comments.

    • fromMarkHall profile image


      9 years ago

      Having worked for Longs AND chose wisely not to go into too much detail about the myriad brands of tampons and precisely why it is so easy to accidentally grab the wrong 'kind'. Thanks.

    • jimagain profile imageAUTHOR

      Jim Henderson 

      9 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      My thanks and appreciation of a fellow-sufferer from the bowels of mercantile purgatory. Perhaps we should form some sort of support group for victims of massive keisters blocking the aisle? I, however, have been reprimanded for my crude and insensitive remarks and am now forced to undergo some sort of remedial sensitivity training as punishment.

      Thanks to liveandlaugh for your great comments.

    • liveandlaugh profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      I found this hub so funny! I too have faced the challenge of getting around individuals with a double-wide booty. I feel your pain.

    • jimagain profile imageAUTHOR

      Jim Henderson 

      9 years ago from Hattiesburg, Mississippi

      Excellent comments! Thanks to Insane Mundane. I was groping for a way to use 'expiate' in my disembodied account of mercantile zombies! Thanks again for commenting. You just saved this Hub from cyberspace purgatory.

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 

      9 years ago from Earth

      Ha-ha! It sounds like you hate shopping at Walmart as much as I do!

      Dang, what a detailed debacle featuring an utter shopping-cart calamity, you told, as the clanking shopping cart wasn't even needed, as that one soul-saving associate enumerated your contents and noticed that you only had one item. I'm glad that you made it back from a purgatorial Hell of retail and that you found an expiatory purification, upon your exit out the double-doors! :D


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