On Saturday, Jan and I did our usual share of weekend chores, which included grocery shopping. There was a time that I enjoyed this activity. But for some reason, I've started to put it into the category of mowing the lawn or doing laundry. Tedious, except when I'm hungry, and then only slightly bearable.
Maybe grocery stores are different now than in the past, or maybe I'm just more choosey, but it's a rare event if I can find everything I want at one store. So, we divide our shopping between two, one for staples, and another for produce and certain select items. The clientele at the two stores are different, but strangely the same. The Walmart that I frequent, is usually populated with a large percentage of Northern Illinois hillbillies, who live in old vacation camps west of town. The other, Piggly Wiggly, usually has a large percentage of rapidly aging Eastern Europeans. I still can't figure out where they come from, but I've been told they mostly live in an exotic sounding burg just south of me, named Venitian Village.
Anyway, "The Pig", as most people around here call it, is a fairly decent place to shop. There's a wide variety of ethnic foods, and most of the checkers (male and female) aren't terribly rude and have some interesting jailhouse tattoos. And once or twice a month, they have in-store promotions, that always are semi-cool. Who can resist a real NASCAR auto or the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile on display outside the store's main door? They also have their share of local celebrities, mostly professional football players, signing autographs inside the store, although for some reason they always set them up back in the dairy department, where it's cold as the proverbial witches tit.
So, on this particular Saturday, as we entered the store, we noticed all of the employees wearing Chicago Bears jerseys and I knew that one of the fabled football greats would be there. Who would it be? Jay Cutler? Julius Peppers? "Da Coach" Mike Ditka? We hurried to the back of the store, where we anticipated a line stretching for hundreds of yards, winding up and down the aisles, and saw sitting at a card table ...
Yeah, I know ... who? Well, for all of you non-Chicagoans under 40 years old, Mr. Covert was a left offensive tackle during the Bears one-and-only Superbowl win in 1985. What's an offensive tackle? Hell, I don't know. I didn't think anybody on the offense was supposed to tackle anybody, otherwise they'd get a penalty. But that just shows how much I know.
Anyway, Jimbo was sitting behind his card table, flanked by two vapidly smiling PR twenty-somethings (who probably didn't know who he was either) with a stack of Miller Lite emblazoned photos and NO ONE lined up in front of him. He looked rather forlorn ... forlorn and slightly pissed-off. All around him, shoppers maneuvered their carts around the table trying to pick up milk and eggs and looking just a little annoyed that their right-of-way was being blocked by this guy. A few stood and gawked at him, no doubt waiting for the Tombstone pizza samples to pop out of the toaster oven that was also inexplicably perched on his table along with the photo glossies. I overheard one elderly gentleman exclaim, to nobody in particular, "Hey, you signing autographs or something?"
How sad. I thought later that it was a shame that once-storied gladiators of the gridiron should have to spend their later life shilling watered down beer to make ends meet.
Later, after we returned home, I looked up Jimbo on the internet to see what misfortunes had led to such a sorry fate. However, I was mildly shocked to learn that Mr. Covert has had quite a successful career since leaving football.
Then I asked myself why someone who obviously is in pretty good shape financially feels the need to sit for four hours in a suburban grocery store to pick up a quick 500 dollars? Walking around money? Needless to say, I didn't feel very sorry for him after the fact.
Maybe it's just my jealous side raising it's ugly head again, but maybe this week I'll make a few moves and finagle myself a card table set-up in the dairy section of The Pig on some future Saturday. I can see it now ... "Come In And Meet ROB; Noted Former Agricultural Mid-Level Managerial Mule ... Sponsored by Boones Farm Strawberry Hill Wine!" All I'll need is a stack of head shots and a felt tip pen.
Crap ... I'll bet I sign more autographs than Jimbo did.