Canned Potatoes and Story Time

My grocery store basket was looped on my arm like a big plastic purse. I walked up and down the aisles putting together the list of items I needed for supper and also what I may be needed for brunch the next morning. I only put the basket down once, in front of the condiments. Don’t judge me. Sometimes I need things like ketchup—for guests. I swear.

I love grocery shopping. It’s my favorite type of shopping. Truthfully, I’m not much of a fan of any other kind of shopping. This day, like many others, I wandered through my local grocery store enjoying the process of what I was picking. Honestly, grocery shopping is very artistic. The labels are art. The sections: bakery, produce, the international aisle. Mm. So pretty. The way they stack baking—artful. The deli is assembled edible art. I was composing supper drooling at how delicious supper was going to be. Once my basket was full—and too heavy for my arm I went to the check out. Fifteen items or less. That’s for me.

I proceeded to empty my basket onto the checkout counter but paused about three items in. In my hand I held a peacock blue can of Compliments brand canned potatoes. My poker face fell away. Actually, who am I kidding. I don’t have a poker face. My face scrunched in obvious confusion. Questions ran through my head. Where the hell did this can of potatoes come from? Is this a joke? It’s kind of funny. Did someone put it there? Did it fall in—randomly? How distracted was I with my grocery shopping endeavors that I didn’t notice how that can got there? Why didn’t I notice the weight of this in my already heavy basket of food stuff? Where is my wallet? Is my purse zipped up? And lastly, potatoes in a can? Really? I never knew—until now. Now I know. Potatoes sometimes come in cans.

I finished unloading my groceries still completely perplexed. The person in front of me took their bags and left. Greeting the young woman at the till I held up the can. “I don’t want this.” I said it bluntly. “Okay.” The employee nodded politely. “I mean I never put it in my basket. Someone else did—I think. I think it was a joke. You know like on TikTok videos where someone randomly puts something in a person’s grocery cart—?” I said it like a question because I hoped it was actually a thing. She smiled politely. “I can take it.” She opened her hand to take it from me. “Actually, I’ll buy it, but I’ll put it over there.” I pointed to the Food Bank donation bin.

The elderly woman in line behind me was full on laughing at my story and added her own version. “I bet some man mixed up the baskets and worse maybe he mixed up the wife!” Her smile grew. “And he put the can in the wrong basket and when he gets home he’s gonna get hell from his wife! Where’s the potatoes I asked you to get! Or worse! Who was that lady you got so close to?” She was giggling away at her version. I joined in her laugh and her version.

By this point we were all smiling: me, the employee, the elderly woman in line behind me.

How do canned potatoes relate to story

  1. This happening is in and of itself a comical story. An unexplainable appearance of a can of potatoes in my grocery basket has some sort of a quirky element of humor to it. I may have been on the receiving end of a joke—I hope. And, as benign as canned goods are I am so grateful that this was the thing that made it to my shopping arms as I could have ended up with something much more scandalous. Use your imagination.
  2. The older woman behind me in line came up with her own version of why I ended up with this product. Her version was likely based on her own experience and the way she saw the world. Maybe her husband forgot a lot of things when going for groceries. We respond to the arts based on what we already know. Our personal experiences determine our assumptions.
  3. The person who put the can in my basket (if intended to be a prank) went home and told their version of the story. If it was not intended and someone mistakenly put the potatoes in my basket (I’m not sure how) went home and perhaps came up with their own version of what may have happened to the can and how it disappeared.
  4. Someone, at a later date will end up with that same can of potatoes. I hope they get a cool story out of it.

Side notes or side dishes

I told my significant other about these potatoes ending up in my basket and how weird it was, but I also added that I didn’t even know that potatoes came in cans. He verified that they did indeed. During fly in fishing trips he and his friends would often take canned potatoes, because they are convenient, already peeled, and nonperishable. They would add them to the fish fry. He promised me they were a delicious side dish in the middle of nowhere up north.

I may actually bring a can home and try them. Or, I may slip a can into someone else’s groceries. Who thought potatoes could be so interesting.

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