Say Hey To The Quaker Oats Man

A 2400 dpi scan of okra, Abelmoschus esculentus.

If it doesn't have this, it isn't gumbo (Image via Wikipedia)


The weather is finally cooling. Last night seemed a good time to make a batch of gumbo. I didn’t have one of the critical ingredients. Gumbo without okra just isn’t gumbo, so off to the store I went.  

So begins this tale of woe.  

Chivalry Identifies a Need

As I made my rounds in the market, I witnessed an unfortunate event.  

In the cereal aisle, I saw a woman reaching for a box of granola on a shelf just out of her reach. When she moved the box she’d selected the one next to it also moved, because a third box had been placed horizontally across the tops of both boxes. Trying to avoid dropping the boxes, the woman grabbed the second box.  

At this point she had both arms outstretched, with a box of granola in each hand. As I moved down the aisle, the third box that was perched on the two she had in her hands, teeters and falls. It slides down her arms like a train on rails, crashing into her face. It looked like it kind of hurt.  

I’ve got to help, right?  

Chivalry Strikes An Odd Pose

Praise the Oats Man (image va


So there she is, arms outstretched, with a cereal box in each hand,as if engaged in some sort of worship ritual to The Quaker Oats Man. The aggressive third box of granola leans on her face. She holds the pose, trying not to drop anything,  

Because Mom and Dad raised a gentleman, I sprung into action.  

I walked over, leaned over her cart, over her purse and reached for the box on her face. Just as my hand gets in front of her face, she moved. The box dropped. She tried to catch it between her elbows but did not succeed.  

That left me standing on one leg, leaning over her stuff, with my hand in her face. I was in her space. She looked at me, questioningly.  

I’ve got to say something, right?  

Chivalry Should Learn When To Keep Its Mouth Shut.

The Catch: Willie Mays hauls in Vic Wertz's dr...

Nice catch. Do you think he could have done it with a box of granola? (Image via Wikipedia)


So there I am, in her personal space, with my hand in her face. She’s looking at me. I felt the need to address her in some manner. There are a lot of things I could have said and didn’t.  

I said “nice catch”.  

Nice catch. As if she were Willie Mays.  

Nice catch, not “are you alright?”  

Not “why on earth would they stack boxes like that?”  

Nice catch.  

I’ve got to get out of the awkward situation, right?  

Chivalry Suffers For Having Talked Too Much

So there I am still on one foot, having picked nearly the most bizarre thing to have said to this stranger in this situation. I think it best to move on before I feel compelled to speak again.  

I return to my cart and move down the aisle. At the end of the aisle I decide that I do not want to cross paths with Mrs. Willie Mays again. I do the only logical thing to do that doesn’t involve running out of the store without my okra. I skip the next aisle. I thought I was so smart.  

Mrs. Willie Mays must have had the same thought, because there she was coming toward me from the other end of the aisle. We both shopped that aisle and skipped the next one, but inevitably we crossed paths again.  

Now feeling less like a chivalrous gentleman and more like an accidental stalker, I’ve got to leave the store, right?  

Chivalry Can’t Make Gumbo Without Okra

I went directly to the checkout aisle.  

As they finished ringing up my purchases I realized I’d failed to get the main thing I’d gone shopping for. I still did not own any okra. There was no way I was going back into the store to get it, I was sure to run into Mrs. Mays. I’d just stop at the store down the block and get it.  

I put my purchases in the car and started to back out of my parking space. A car on the opposite side of the parking row started backing out so quickly that I had to pull back into my space to avoid a collision. I finally pulled out and got to the traffic signal. I looked to the side to check traffic before pulling out onto the road. There on my left, in the car that almost backed into mine, was Mrs. Mays.  

The gumbo was really good.  

32 Comments on “Say Hey To The Quaker Oats Man”

  1. snoringdogstudio says:

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, Mr. O. Your comment was kind of funny. You could have yelled, “Clean up on Aisle 4!” or, worse yet, walked away. Like many would have. But you did help her. You weren’t cruel. She might have been having a bad day. An avalanche of granola boxes could do that to me. My post today addresses this sort of thing – words – the right ones, the wrong ones. Have a read if you wish.

    I don’t think I could find even one okra stalk here in Boise. Lucky you.

    I always love your posts.

  2. Horsedonkeymulezebra says:

    I’ll have to tell you my story of the time I jumped into an elevator at work and said to the woman already in the elevator “Nipple hi!”

  3. We found him Captain!! says:

    Nice catch! And Nipple Hi!! I hope you two don’t ever go grocery shopping together.

  4. Todd Pack says:

    That’ll learn you.

  5. Hippie Cahier says:

    I would have said something like that. Wait, that’s not exactly comforting, is it?

    James Redfield would have much to say about your encounters with Mrs. Willie May, especially if any of the boxes were “illuminated.”

  6. Hippie Cahier says:

    Mrs. Willie Mays.


  7. Perfect, oma! I was laughing so hard at this, my stepson came out of his room to see what was wrong with me!

    I’ve never had genuine gumbo before, although I suspect it’s too spicy for me…


  8. Brooke says:

    You two were on the same wavelength. With the aisle jumping and abandoning the premises with immediateness, I’m sure she knew you were trying to help but just had that uneasy embarrassment. No blood no foul. I mean, no harm no foul.

  9. omawarisan says:

    Probably. Just in case though, I’m going to Google “who did he think I am, Willie Mays?” to see if shes written about me.

  10. pattypunker says:

    that wasn’t very quaker like of you. no, kidding. she should have realized you were coming in for the catch, ya know that competition thing.

    • omawarisan says:

      Maybe she’d have picked up on it if that granola hadn’t hit her quite so hard. Granola is dangerous stuff. You don’t see Frosted Flakes doing things like that to people.

  11. Sometimes the universe is trying to tell you something. I’m not sure what it was in this case, but it must have been something.

  12. Physics dictates that the more you try to avoid a person in the grocery store, the more your grocery cart will be attracted to theirs. Don’t ask me, ask physics.

  13. Katybeth says:

    Good Catch….I like it. Truthfully, I think God Angels sent her to save you and help you learn a valuable lesson—Gumbo without okra is GOOD GUMBO.

  14. planetross says:

    Gumbo and Okra! I loved that stop animation show when I was a kid. They could walk into any book! How cool was that? … Pretty cool!
    I think I still have the bendy doll things somewhere.

    • omawarisan says:

      And he used to smash into things and turn into 28 little gumbos that all scooted together to make the regular sized one!

      I’ve got the bendy dolls at my desk. Once someone asked me who the green guy and the orange horse were. I brought them up on charges and had them suspended for a week.

  15. educlaytion says:

    “Chivalry Can’t Make Gumbo Without Okra” is a great line…
    I have never thought about okra for more than 2 seconds. I’m glad this is how I first get to ponder the power it wields. I love the way your tale of woe builds and how you describe the encounter. I’ve done some crazy things to avoid such uncomfortable encounters, but none quite like this one. At 6’3, I’m always asked by strangers to grab stuff off the top shelf. I’ve never played Twister with them right off the bat though! Enjoyed this. I look forward to reading more.

    • omawarisan says:

      Thank you, and welcome!

      You should try the twister, and don’t be shy about spouting the first thing that comes to mind while youre doing it.

      Oh yeah, okra is powerful. It turns soup into gumbo.

  16. dottiemaggie says:

    Not gonna lie, this made me lol. And I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve left the grocery store without the item I really meant to get because I got all flustered by embarassing encounters with strangers…

  17. Greg says:

    Imagine the Quaker Oats Man without the hat and a string of pearls around his neck. I think he would look just like Barbara Bush.

So, what's on your mind?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s