#43 In Roads-Joker
I’m in line at the grocery when I realize I forgot lettuce. I let the checker know and take off sprinting to the produce aisle. As I return, he holds his hands up as if to catch the football. I do a fake pass from across the store and we laugh as I arrive to discover there is no one else behind me in line so I hand over the produce and launch into a string of questions as he loads the grocery bags. Paul has worked for this store since 1990. I ask if I can take his picture and he poses as we talk about his children. He laughs and looks skyward as I ask their ages.
“Well now you’re getting to the hard part, “ he chuckles. Doing the math in his head with his eyes closed he comes up with 26 and 30. “The youngest just graduated with her bachelors from UOP so life is pretty good.” I ask about grandchildren and the smile fades from his face. “No,” he deadpans. “I don’t have any and to be honest, I’m ok with that. I don’t want the hassle that comes with kids again. They are a LOT of work, ya know? Ya gotta feed them and then there’s all that cleaning stuff and diapers? I just don’t feel the need for grandchildren.”
All of a sudden the table turns and he begins interrogating me, asking where I’m from. I tell him I’m a traveller and he asks where home base is. I explain about life on the road with my bike, visiting friends. He laughs. “No kidding? Wow. You’re a regular Rambling Rose, aren’t ya? You are a lucky, lucky girl.” He grins and shakes his head as the thought sinks in. He asks about Burning Man, Sturgis and my bike. He seems amazed. “I used to ride a bike,” he tells me with raised eyebrows. “It was a BMW.” I asked why he stopped riding and he shrugs.
“It was inconvenient. The whole kid thing, ya know? They kept falling off, bouncing down the road. You can imagine how inconvenient it was, having to stop and pick them up all the time,” he jokes. I point out that’s why they invented Bungee cords. We laugh. He never asks why I’m so nosey or what I will do with his picture but he shakes my hand. “Keep in touch,” he tells me, “enjoy your ride and come back to see us.” I promise to swing by next time I’m in the area since I’m sure my friends will be out of lettuce again by then, anyway.