The lady in question I have seen a few times before in this little country Dollar Store. She's either accompanied by her daughter or what I assume to be her son, and she's obviously suffering from Alzheimer's or something similar. While she pays for her purchases herself most times, she's never all there and this usually involves me waiting patiently while she counts and re-counts her money. The daughter I like, but the son never seems too kind, even saying once, "You're going to make me mad at you again," when she was unclear on the size of her Depends (and had to exchange for a different size minutes later). But other than that I've rarely seen him.
This day I was walking into work when I passed her exiting the store, alone, back to her car. I clocked in and turned to see that she had come back. She asked, "Do you have a phone?"
While I fetch the store phone I learn from a co-worker that some keys had been lost and I assume she needs to call a relative for help. I'm immediately concerned that she's by herself and someone more capable is not handling this. The woman was exhausted and even requested a chair. I dial the number she gives to no result, and then I'm put on register, so I hand the matter over to my co-worker.
The lady has now asked for a phone book, and we get one. She wants to call Sonic. Or Burger King, she says. I'm hoping she knows someone at either place. After getting a hold of one or the other the lady takes the phone.... and proceeds to order a meal. "We'll be there soon" she says and gets up to leave.
My manager, my coworker and I look on, not saying a thing. I wonder if I understood everything correctly. "Didn't they lose their car keys?" I ask, and they both shake their heads, saying things like "I didn't know what to think" and "That's the weirdest thing I've ever seen".
But it's NOT DONE.
I see now that the son is in the car and ask why he hasn't come in. He isn't wearing shoes. The manager says "Well, hey, I'll let him in to find his keys, I don't care." Then, as we're watching the lady get into the car, we can see the man is obviously fussing at her, even taking his head in his hands as if extremely distressed. The woman comes back in, asks where the toothpaste is at, and I direct her. The man is asked in and apparently a search for the keys is made. Eventually he finds his way to the register, and I can tell that compared to prior encounters, his hair is a mess, his stubble is reaching beard-length, his eyes are red, and he stinks. He shakes his head, sighs, and lays a dollar on the counter. He's brought no item. I ask, "Are you getting anything?"
"What?... oh, I'm sorry, It's been a hard day..."
He pulls out his wallet, grabs another dollar, places it on the counter.
Ehhh... "Sir, do you need anything?"
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry..."
He fiddles with the dollars, but still seems COMPLETELY out of it. My manager has spotted my expression and asked what was wrong. I told her I had no idea. But as he goes into his pockets again, what does he pull out? THE FUCKING KEYS (he had NOT found the keys in the store, I learn). The man moves away in time for other customers to buy their things, and soon leaves the store. His mother buys some toothpaste (maybe this was what he wanted to buy before?), and I try not to neglect my other work in favor of watching any further drama.
Apparently the co-worker helps unlock the passenger side door for the lady, and STARTS the car for the man. The manager is immediately like, "I'm not sure that was wise..." the two pull out of the parking lot and turn toward the highway, and proceed to drive off ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD. Oh God.
We know they got home safe because relatives of the lady called to find out what had happened and promised they would kill that man if they ever took her out again in the condition that he was.
My theory: The elderly don't become like that and AREN'T prescribed a fistful of meds. That man was high on his mother's drugs. Some people make me sick.