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Snapshots of Life in the City

The City Keeps Us Young

An Asian couple very short, skinny, and very old, walked so slowly inside the grocery that everyone glanced at them. They sort of shuffled along, seeming to nearly fall with each step. The woman was a bit heartier than the man and she patiently waited for him at various points along the way.
I don't think I have ever seen people walking quite that slowly - ever - and, for others to notice, it was a thing. In that grocery, shoppers stay in their own heads, not really seeing much else.
The couple wound up ahead of me in line to check out and I watched them go up to the checker, slowly put their items on the table to be scanned. Then they retrieved a few bags back from the checker, placing them slowly in their own small personal cart. They paid and slowly shuffled to the door, with the man pushing the cart but also leaning on it for support. 
I was next.
"Those people are amazing!" I said.
"God bless them. They have lived a long time and are still going," said the checker. "The woman argued with me about how expensive these rolls were and removed them from her order!" 


I looked at the rejected bag of rolls that were placed off to the side and smiled. "Good for her!"
Then the checker shook her head with a furrowed brow. "Where are their children? They should be helping them!"
"Maybe they don't have any children or maybe they died or something," I said.
The clerk dropped her head and stomped in place. "Oh I should not have judged! Of course they might be alone."
"That's ok. I understand. You meant well – you have concern for them!"
"I do. But I shouldn't have said that." She continued stomping, as if to punish herself.
"I bet this keeps them alive and healthy - having to get their groceries and walk around," I said.
"Maybe it's a kind of exercise plan for them!" She said and she stopped stomping, the furrow in her brow receding.
"That's right. This could be an important part of their day that they look forward to. They don't need children to help them!"


"Right!" She exclaimed. 
We smiled and said goodbye, relieved and satisfied that we had wished the couple well. In fact, we clearly were a bit in awe of them.

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