The radio crackled as it does with an incoming call. I glanced at the dashboard. It was Carol’s number.
“Did you hear it?”
We often hear the reverse thrust as a jet lands at Green, a distant roar. But I hadn’t heard her flight land, and I wasn’t listening for it, either. She was early.
“I’m at Hoxsie Four, just pulling into Dave’s,” I told her. My plan was to do some shopping and then pick her up. “Shall I get you first?”
She was still aboard the flight and it would be at least another 15 minutes before she got her luggage.
“What would you like for dinner, shall I pick up some fish?”
“Something flakey, maybe sole. I’ll meet you at 12.”
We had a plan. Twelve is not the hour but the numbered column on the arrival level at which we would meet.
I pulled into the Dave’s lot. It was packed. The threat of snow and freezing rain and the Patriots playoff game on Sunday had made for a perfect shopping storm. This wasn’t simply a frantic bread and milk run, but a chips, salsa and peanut frenzy. There was purpose to these forays. Shopping carts weren’t piled high and kids weren’t in tow as usually the case on Saturday afternoon. Rather, these were “in and out” trips to get those last-minute supplies.
That’s just what I had in mind, too – a quick hit and then on to get Carol at the airport. Forget it.
The market was bustling. Shoppers knew what they wanted. There was no dallying. Bags of corn chips flew off the shelves, avocadoes were snatched up, cheeses were pulled from the cooler racks and chicken wings were piled high into plastic containers from the prepared food stand. Shoppers weren’t glancing at lists or looking for the best price. They were focused and intent.
I found the spinach, grabbed a couple of baking potatoes and some apples and skirted a 15-deep waiting line at the deli. I headed for the fish counter, figuring I’d face a 10-minute wait. Remarkably, not one was there, and the man behind the counter was filling a tray of cod. It’s what Carol would like. He held up a chunk.
He wrapped it and handed it to me. No trip to Dave’s is complete without a visit to the ice cream freezer. I spotted Brigham’s chocolate chip, but unknowingly in my haste snagged a quart of vanilla. But that’s good, too.
I’d made good time. I figured Carol was at standing at baggage claim. This was going to work.
There was one final hurdle – well, two actually – the checkout lane and getting back on Airport Road.
I surveyed the options – eight to 10 people were waiting in the express lanes or half those numbers in the other lanes. I picked the shortest line, although it wasn’t an express lane.
The woman in front of me was sorting through the items in her carriage. She held three, pondering her next step.
I figured she was short on cash and planned to return them.
“I’ll save your place.”
She looked up.
“That would give me 15,” revealing her plan to shift to the express lane.
The line bumped up and she decided to stay.
“Here to beat the storm?”
That wasn’t the purpose of her rush to Dave’s.
“You know this is the only place you can get wieners.”
In the bottom of her cart were at least two plastic-wrapped Styrofoam plates of the skinny sausages.
“Aren’t they just hotdogs?”
I didn’t realize I had uttered such a sacrilege. Clearly I don’t know my wieners, for she named the difference and pulled out a baggie of her special mix, describing how to make them. The correct bun is also critical. She had those, too. She had all she needed to join her neighbor’s Sunday Patriots party.
I told her Carol was returning from visiting a friend in Florida who had had cancer. She frowned. I explained her friend has been cancer free for several years.
She smiled. It was good news. We talked about the pervasiveness of the disease and she observed how we all know someone affected by cancer.
I looked around. Others in line were tuned in to our conversation. Some nodded.
The topic switched to the Patriots and the woman bemoaned that her son isn’t a fan. She added that he isn’t a Red Sox fan, either. The line bumped up and she turned to me.
“Here, go ahead,” she urged stepping back. I knew Carol would be outside the terminal by now, I was running late. I thanked her. The checkout cashier said hello. She’d been following the conversation; she rushed me through.
I turned back to look at my benefactor.
“Those are going to be the best wieners yet,” I said.
“Go Pats,” she replied. I thought the place was going to cheer.