Cell Phone Momma Goes Shopping

Cell Phone Momma Goes Shopping

by Helen Losse



Near the middle of the paint aisle,
three gallons of red paint, a head of
iceberg lettuce, and four cans of Vienna
sausage occupy a shopping cart. Two
small boys—told to stay with the cart—
dance among shoppers in the toy aisle.
One is bouncing an orange ball. The other
rides a bike with flat tires and training
wheels. “KEN HARPER REGISTER
FOUR” blares from the loud speaker.
The kids’ mom shows up, carrying cell
phone batteries. “QUIT THAT RUNNING! “
she bellows in the general direction of
her abandoned cart, which is not where
the boys are or where she is either. She
opens her package and installs the batteries.
I hear several bars of “HEY, JUDE” as they
complete their circuit. “HELLO,” she snorts
into her phone.

Suddenly, the kid who was riding the bike
is crying. The kid who had been playing
with the ball is yelling, “MOMMA.
MOMMA, MAKE HIM GIVE IT BACK!”
The bike-kid can’t give the ball back.
Another shopper left his cart so neither kid
can move. And Momma can’t hear the ruckus.
Cell Phone Momma slings her phone
into her purse, ambles toward the main aisle
where she notices a sign, “$5 and UP.”
Has she forgotten she picked out paint and
food and that she brought her boys along?
Half an hour later, pawing through a stack of
T-shirts, it hits her, and she trots toward the
aisle marked “PAINT.” “Now where are those
boys?” she mumbles, just as “LOST
CHILDREN CUSTOMER SERVICE,”
is so loud a man drives his power-cart into
my butt and doesn’t notice that I say,
“OUCH!”


-refers from “red paint” in Painting Day by Cory Funk

  1. I found a lost little boy in Wal-Mart once. He was sobbing big tears because he couldn’t find his dad. I was taking him to customer service when he saw his dad at the auto parts desk. He ran over and grabbed his dad around the leg.

    The dad looked down and began to berate the kid for interrupting what he was doing. When the boy told his dad he had gotten lost the dad began anew telling the kid how stupid he was and why didn’t he pay attention to where he was.

    I know in this day and age of “Politically Correct” you are not supposed to interfere, but something inside me snapped. I walked over and told the dad–in calm, measured tones–that is wasn’t the child’s responsibility to keep track of dad, it was dad’s responsibility to keep track of and care for his child. The kid was there because he wanted to be with his dad, and dad should be paying attention, not the other way around.

    After I said all of the I turned and walked away. I hope the dad was listening, but something inside told me he was probably inwardly raging at me for being a butinsky.

  2. Jeanette Gallagher

    Just ONE of the reasons I dislike cell phones! You can easily see why this situation would strike a chord – even if it’s a good poem with good imagery. I can hear the musical ring…

  3. Oh Helen. Perfect. I don’t go to Walmart too often. Now I remember why! haha!

  4. Love the conversations this poems started!

  5. I love the places we find inspiration and the way an event like this can become an artistic statement! Brava!

  6. Thanks for joining in so many poem conversations, Annmarie!

  7. I love the title. This poem felt really real and sad.

  1. Pingback: Recently In the Poetry World « Windows Toward the World

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