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Jasmine and Charlie continued circling the Shoprite parking lot and were sure of only two things. There were no carts in the corral at the front of the store and many people were inside doing last-minute shopping on this Fourth of July Sunday morning.
Charlie maneuvered their car into an open spot about a football field away from the front entrance. Scanning the parking lot for empty carts, they hoped against hope for a rogue cart floating around waiting to be claimed.
Spotting a guy in a Mets baseball hat unloading items into the back of an SUV, Charlie made a beeline in his direction. He politely asked the baseball fan if he was done with the cart. Before the man even answered, Charlie grabbed the handle to take possession, preventing any other wandering cart seeker from converging on his prize.
The man said, “Sure, it’s all yours,” and gave him a polite wave. Overjoyed at their luck, they happily steered their empty shopping cart onto the sidewalk, pausing for a second as the automatic doors magically opened, allowing them inside a very crowded supermarket.
Their main objective was the Poland Spring water bottles on sale. Three cases (24-packs) were only $8 (on sale), about 10 cents per bottle. Stopping first in the produce section, Jasmine picked up two 6-oz packages of blueberries ($1.99 per pound), placing them on the little shelf in the back of the cart by the handle. This would ensure the blueberries wouldn’t get accidentally smashed by the hefty watermelon Charlie was searching for just ahead of her.
That’s when she noticed a black wallet sitting on the little shelf in the cart. She signaled to Charlie, who was about to bend over into the watermelon bin, waiving the wallet in the air. “I found a wallet,” she shouted, “I’m going to go to the courtesy counter and turn it in.” As she headed to customer service, she was thinking about that poor man in the baseball hat and how awful he would feel after realizing his wallet was missing.
Completing their shopping list, they struggled to somehow fit those three cases of Poland Spring water into their cart. Choosing the self-checkout line, they watched as shoppers struggled with the scanning mechanism and locating bar codes.
That’s when something underneath the blueberries began to vibrate.
Jasmine lifted the saran-wrapped pack of blueberries and found a vibrating iPhone. She picked up the phone, looked at Charlie, and said, “Should I answer it?”
“Why not?” was his response.
She swiped the bar to the left and tentatively said, “Hello?”
On the other end was a frantic man, identifying himself as the owner of the iPhone and asking where she was so he could be reunited with the device. Told she was in the Shoprite in Massapequa, the voice on the phone was puzzled, as he too was in Shoprite in Massapequa, at the courtesy desk. He was grateful to retrieve his wallet but was concerned when they didn’t also have the phone.
“I didn’t see the phone,” she told him. “It wasn’t until you called it that it rang and started to vibrate. That’s when I noticed it was in the cart.”
Jasmine looked over to the courtesy counter from across the store and began waving at the man wearing a Mets hat. The man waved back, thanked a stranger for letting him use his phone and walked across the store to meet the Good Samaritans.
He hugged Jasmine and shook Charlie’s hand as relief poured over him after once again cheating death by finding his lost cell phone. His Joe DiMaggio-type streak of never losing his cellphone remained intact.
As I headed towards my car, reunited with my cellphone and wallet, I cursed my choice of wearing running shorts without pockets this morning. Hopefully, I won’t make that mistake again.