A conversation in the parking lot at the market.

Posted in blog post on June 23rd, 2011 by Merrill Markoe

Yesterday as I left the supermarket, a  middle aged woman in a floral print blouse and nondescript black pants  blocked me on my way to my car. She looked a little beat up but, speaking as a person who often looks a little beat up herself ,  I didn’t want to judge her.  At the same time, I thought it was pretty annoying the way she stepped right in front of me  and stopped my progress. Up until that point, I had been clipping right along, making very good time leaving that market. I hate that market. I couldn’t wait  to get out of there.

But before I could begin to offer her any of the surly snarly attitude  for which I am internationally beloved,  she got my attention. “Do you know what pellagra is?” she asked me.


Now there was a word I hadn’t heard in casual conversation in a while.  Instantly I was impressed and interested. Apparently, I thought to myself, she is raising money to fight pellagra, a disease that has kind of fallen in to the  reliquary with scurvy and rickets. Good for her, I was now thinking, wondering when she was going  to lead me over to a card table. If I’m going to be corralled in to making a donation, I had concluded at this point, I’m glad its to fight pellagra. I mean, why should  all my funds only be going to more contemporary and fashionable diseases like cancer, AIDS and MS when pellagra goes over looked and unaddressed.  It  deserves my attention.

So I answered her. “Yes, I’ve heard of it.” I said, ” Isn’t it a disease caused by a vitamin deficiency? Actually, I think maybe my uncle had it.”

I threw that uncle thing in  to make the conversation a little more personally relevant . That way when she hit me up for funds, I’d have a better reason to be generous.

““No,” she said, ” It causes people to disappear. And then the birds get bigger.”

“Oh. Right. Right.” I said, now understanding why she wasn’t carrying a clipboard or a cannister or offering me any pamphets”  I guess that isn’t what my uncle had after all. Okay. Well, good. Thank you.” Then I pushed past her and made a beeline  to my car.

And as I drove away, and revisited all the details of our exchange,  the thing that  I couldn’t get over is that I THANKED HER.

3 Responses to “A conversation in the parking lot at the market.”

  1. John says:

    I have what I call “hateful hindsight”, where I curse myself for the goofy things I said in a situation and and then, too late, come up with a bunch of wicked verbal jams that I SHOULD have stabbed the pricks with. Then I’ll be madder at myself than I was at the person or situation to begin with. Infuriating.

    The good news is that you’re alright, and the birds are still bird-sized.

  2. Tina says:

    OK. This is a stretch, I know.

    Maybe . . . maybe the woman was getting replacement windows for her home and heard about a certain glass product made by PELLA Windows. Pella makes a tinted insulating glass that blocks the view into your home. (“It causes people to disappear”) And because of the way it’s made with two panes sandwiched together, it may incur a certain magnification of the view outdoors, ie: birds. (“And then the birds get bigger”).

    See, I told you it was a stretch. But you’re right. She’s probably a bit coo-coo.

  3. Prevailing Wind says:

    I thanked a cop once for giving me a speeding ticket. Go figure.

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