TODAY A WOMAN WENT MAD IN THE SUPERMARKET – Robert G. Wertzler

It was an ordinary day at the supermarket. Everybody agreed on that, completely ordinary until a woman went mad. At first, nobody noticed her going mad. She wasn’t screaming or smashing things. In fact, she was completely quiet at first, just standing there in the toothpaste aisle with her cart, looking at all the toothpaste. But if you watched, which one of the other shoppers did, you could see in her wide, wide eyes scanning back and forth across the display, the beginning of a rising panic. Then the shaking and muttering began. Someone tried to ask if she needed help. She waved them off with a look the person said was terrifying. Then, she began rapidly, desperately, grabbing one of each brand and type of toothpaste, every one, and throwing them in her cart, muttering more and more loudly until they could hear what she was saying. She was repeating the words of TV ads for toothpaste, all the ads for all the brands, going back to some from decades ago. With the cart almost full with toothpaste, she dashed on to the cereal aisle and began piling boxes and bags of cereal in the cart. When it was full, she ran to get another cart. That’s where they tried to stop her.  She started screaming about various brands of cereals. And she fought them, fought them all, the store people, the police, the paramedics. Finally, they were able to restrain her enough to give her a shot of something and get her into the ambulance, still reciting the TV commercials for all kinds of things. One shopper commented, “My kids are going to be watching a lot less TV.”

Photo by Nathália Rosa on Unsplash


Bob Wertzler is retired from almost twenty years in the mental health field in California and Arizona. There are times the title, “Recovering Therapist”, seems to fit. In 2006 he retired to move to Western North Carolina to help and become primary care giver for his father who had developed Dementia. Before all that, there was work at various times as a soldier (US Army 1967-70), community organizer, cab driver, welfare case worker, wooden toy maker, carpenter, warehouse worker, and other things. He relates to a line in a Grateful Dead song, “What a long, strange trip its been.”

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