Sharing Stories

Pat Gustavson


(This incident happened in March)

I hadn’t been shopping at a large retail store since Christmas and it was March.

I parked my SUV and dragged my walker out of the van. Set the brakes and pulled my gigantic purse from the front seat. Locked my doors and the trunk.

I was off kinda—arthritis is my enemy.

I approached the front door and found no automatic switch available. I guessed the door weighed hundred and ninety pounds; fierce determination exploded inside me. The walker and I flew through door. My gigantic purse gave me a slap on my left side.

I found the women’s department and searched for white shorts. I chose a pair and hoped the size would fit. The selection was poor in March, but our family was traveling to Hawaii for my granddaughter’s wedding, so an early purchase was necessary.

My next challenge was the lingerie department upstairs. I used the elevator. Juggled the walker through the door. I glanced around at the new floor plan. Where were the lingerie and the towel departments? I found myself in the exceptionally large mattress department.

In the distance, I heard a family arguing. My feet picked up speed, my walker squeaking like it needed some oil.

As I approached the family, I smiled sweetly.

“Where is the elevator?”

Mom returned my smile but spoke in Spanish, shrugging her shoulders and returning to her bickering children.

I imagined all kinds of things that could happen to me. I looked around at the three thousand mattresses surrounding me. After fifteen minutes, I heard men’s voices, so I walked toward them, raising my voice.

“Where’s the elevator?”

“Everyone knows where the elevators are,” one of the men yelled sarcastically. He pointed down the hall.

Frustrated, I said, “You’re a rude young man.” And I left.

The last I saw of him, he was reading tags on one of the three thousand mattresses. What a job he had.

I found the elevator, hoping never to return and grateful I wouldn’t have to call my daughter and tell her I was lost in the mattress department. I have a nagging feeling she might have tucked me away in an assisted living complex.

Rumor has it the large store is going out of business. YEAH!

I was sorry to discover the newly purchased shorts are the wrong size—too many strawberry milkshakes this winter. I will have to return them.

I’ll try another door next time.

Patricia Gustavson is a retired Washingtonian whose historical novel, set in Issaquah, Abigail’s Valley, is about a young nurse.

SHARING STORIES is a weekly column for and about the 50 plus crowd living in the Puget Sound region. Send your stories and photos to ariele@comcast.net. Tell local or personal stories; discuss concerns around aging and other issues; share solutions, good luck, and reasons to celebrate; poems are fine too. Pieces may be edited or excerpted. We reserve the right to select among pieces. Photos are always a plus and a one-sentence bio is requested (where you live, maybe age or career, retired status, etc.).

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