When we are in Amish Indiana, we often run errands with our Amish friends. It saves them time, and it’s a good excuse to socialize. It also has gotten me into lots of Amish homes and businesses I would never have had access to, on my own. But one favorite non-Amish stop of the Lagrange and Elkhart County Amish is the Walmart in Goshen. (I read an article in Newsweek magazine years ago about how the local authorities put in a special road coming up behind that Walmart, just so the local Amish arriving in buggies wouldn’t have to attempt to drive on the main boulevard.)
It’s the nearest “big box store” to the Shipshewana-Lagrange County Amish settlement. And on the same road in Goshen is a Menard’s and an Aldi’s that they also like to patronize. One time my friend Ruth and I were shopping at the Aldi’s and we had a couple of misadventures.
Ruth is a very organized person, so she has been asked multiple times to be in charge of the food for the Amish wedding of one of her nieces. This is a huge responsibility. Special kitchen trailers are rented that have banks of stoves and ovens in them to handle the massive amounts of food that are prepared. A typical wedding can have four seatings through the course of the day, with well over 1,000 meals served altogether.
So Ruth was buying large quantities of certain dry-goods items in advance, and I came along with my Jeep to lend a hand. (Shipshewana to Goshen is far too long a trip for a buggy.) One thing she bought was 50 packets of powdered salad dressing mix, for example. She had planned very carefully what she would buy that day and what it could cost. By the time she made the rounds, we each had a cartful of food. And while she was there, Ruth was picking up a jumbo economy pack of diapers for one of her married daughters.
As we stood in the checkout line, the clerk asked Ruth, “So, planning a wedding?” It so happened that at the very moment Ruth was answering “Yes, we are!” to that question, she was also heaving the gigantic pack of diapers up onto the conveyor belt. It was an awkward moment as it really looked like the diapers were being bought for the bride! (I’ve been asked more than once to re-enact that little moment for the amusement of my Amish friends, since I tell the story more dramatically than Ruth does.)
So… We finished checking out and the clerk told Ruth the total—around $400, as I recall. Ruth’s face turned really pale and she whispered to me, “That’s not what I figured at all—I don’t have that much money!” So we stalled the clerk for a minute while we frantically tried to figure out what to do. My Visa card was no good, since Aldi’s doesn’t take credit cards. I didn’t have a debit card, and neither did she. Neither did I have my checkbook on me, nor enough cash to cover the shortfall. What to do?
As we brainstormed, the clerk suddenly exclaimed, “Oops, sorry! I charged you for 500 packets of salad dressing mix instead of 50 packets!” So the clerk made the correction; the color returned to Ruth’s face; she paid for the purchases; and we were on our way back home. Whew.