You Pick

It’s always here. Where is it? Could they have moved it?

I’m in the grocery store, searching for a particular brand of New England clam chowder, Daniel’s favorite. He specifically asked for it. I can’t find it anywhere. I contemplate other brands; there are three to choose from. I read through the list of ingredients; the differences are minor.

Is the most expensive one better? Should I go with the cheaper one? What about the one with the prettier picture? Should I just pick at random? Should I get all three?

Drained, I choose to forgo making a decision.

Making choices is so much harder than it used to be. I often find myself overwhelmed, sometimes to the point where I cannot decide, and I come away empty handed. Other times, I close my eyes and jab my finger, choosing at random. Occasionally, I leave the store with all three soup cans.

I only shop for groceries when I absolutely have to—when the kids are about to come home, or when I'm out of all staples. I'd rather subsist on cereal than brave the supermarket.

Making decisions is especially difficult in new situations. I don't think well on my feet anymore, and surprises throw me for a loop.

I wasn't sure how much I should tip the hairdresser for my haircut. Should I give her twenty percent or less? Perhaps more. Twenty was easier and it was the first number that came to mind--it brought the bill to eighteen dollars.

I opened my wallet and discovered that I had forgotten my credit card. All I had was cash--two twenty dollar bills, two tens, two fives, and four singles. I hemmed and hawed. Should I pay with a ten a five and three singles? But what if I made a mistake? What if I should give her a larger tip? Maybe I should use my twenty?

I got so flustered, gave her thirty dollars, and told her to keep the change.

Since then, whenever I enter the salon I receive a warm welcome.

Whenever I leave the house with my wallet, I now make sure that my credit card is with me. In addition, whether at a restaurant, in a taxi, or at the hairdresser, I always leave a twenty percent tip, no more, no less.

If at all possible, I arrange to face new situations and potential surprises with a friend by my side. I will not brave a newly rearranged grocery store unaccompanied and I don't dine out on my own.

Unfortunately, help is not always there for the asking. When I fly solo, all I can do is try to prepare myself by imagining as many possible scenarios as I can, and hope for the best.

The outcome is not always the best.

But so far so good—I've survived the worst.