Day Fifty-Seven: Tricycle
Often enough, in the winter months at least, Sunday dinner at our house involved lobster. My grandfather or my uncle Derwyn would arrive with a parcel pick-up bin seething with red shells crawling and clacking against one another, their thick wrists reaching in slow motion towards our faces, fat rubber bands catching against the sides of their confinement. That was when parcel pick up still existed though, having not yet gone the way of the complimentary in-flight meal. The courtesy of chauffeurring groceries to the car now lies in the hands of the consumer, of course, and you're as likely to find tricycles and barbecues in the cart, whole patio sets and a giant panda even, none of which would fit through the trolley gate at the front of the store.
As a child, my favourite part of grocery shopping was the hurling of bins. Those gangly boys with their bulky overcoats and frosty breath prowling the front of the store, tossing empty bins onto the ends of the checkout stands for the cashiers to fill and swinging the full ones onto steel rollers that ran the length of the store, firing them, with one loud SssssssssWOOOSH, to the end of the line where they careened around a sharp corner, through a heavy plastic curtain, and out into the cold. I would stand at the end just behind the corner guard rail and watch the bins hurtle towards me, trying to judge which one was fastest and urging the boys to throw them harder. Behind stealth grins and quick winks they responded with as much enthusiasm as could safely be afforded without getting fired. When mom had finished paying, we'd hustle out to the car—a beat up old VW Rabbit the colour of Orange Crush—and pull around front where we handed over the wooden tags denoting our bins, along with the keys to the hatchback, so one of the boys could swiftly load all the bags into the car and send us on our way with a pat on the roof and a Good evening, Ma'am.
I suppose if my grandfather were delivering lobster to us today, they would arrive in those blue Rubbermaid totes from Canadian Tire or Home Depot, not the hard plastic bins given to him by the man that runs the Save-Easy in Blacks Harbour, or Sobey's in the North End. Not that the lobster would care, destined as they were for screeching pots and Sunday dinners, into kitchens full of steam and cigarette smoke, children squealing under table legs and Grampy shouting about the DFO, or Trudeau, or the RCMP, all of them wasting taxpayers' money. And all the while winter would press into heavy storm windows and dark corners, the old balloon-framed house creaking in the wind, swaying under the weight of icicles crackling like fire.