The plug which recharges the battery was still in its socket. Using the patience I was born with, and not so much since I had the stroke, I waited for help. While I was waiting, I saw the controls: forward, backward, a wheel when you wanted to turn, and a horn. Easy enough.
The help soon arrived in the form of a teenager who was going on break.
"Could you unplug the cart," I asked, knowing he was going to do it.
"Sure," he uttered, with cigarette smoke on his breath. He probably wanted to get in a full smoke before he had to return to duty.
He unplugged the cart and wrapped the excess cord behind the unit to keep it out of my way. I tipped him though I knew it would be going for cigarettes.
By now, 15 minutes had passed and my friend was long gone from the produce aisle. Oh, well, I really was on my own. But he had the shopping list, though I had my cell phone. So I called him.
"Where are you," I inquired.
"In the ketchup aisle."
I wasn't used to sitting down while I went food shopping, so I had to raise my head a bit higher to see where the ketchup was. It was in aisle 9.
"Where were you," he asked, though I knew he really didn't care where I was, just so long as I didn't leave the store.
"You said, 'You're on your own.'" He switched topics when he knew I had him dead to rights.
"I'm going to get crackers. Which kind do you want?"
I followed close, but I lost him in aisle 17 when he said he was going back to retrieve something he'd forgotten. I couldn't make a u-turn fast enough. I went to aisle 21, the dairy section, because that's where he would wind up. String cheese was on the list.
I decided to practice the controls at maximum speed because at this point, I only used the forward button. I stayed on the same path and I counted to three. Forward (1, 2, 3). Reverse (1, 2, 3). Forward (1, 2, 3). Reverse (1, 2). I never got to 3 because a fashionable though ostentatious woman (you know the type where their poop doesn't stink?) was there in the path I had so carefully laid out for myself. Not only did I hit her on her hip, but I ran over what I thought was her recently manicured toe.
She was on the cell phone and I probably woke her up to her surroundings. She said to the person on the other end, with me sitting no more than 3 feet away, "Some crazy-ass bitch in one of those handicapped thing-a-ma-jigs just ran over my toe! She's sitting right here. And I just had a pedicure!"
I knew it. She didn't mention anything about the hip. Evidently, the toe was a priority. It would have been mine, too, before I had the stroke. At least, I understood her priorities.
She continued talking on the cell phone, going right for the string cheese. Her voice was getting shriller and louder. Oh, crap. What if my friend came back at that very moment and she demanded money for the pedicure, knowing we were together? What if the person she was talking to gave her advice, like getting my license or calling the cops?