Gather 'round and share your best campfire tales: silly, spooky, sad, shaggy, or salty!
My neighbor George told this story at a recent campout.
This story is about a strange thing that happened to my mother several years ago. She was at the grocery store doing her weekly shopping. As she was moving around the store and getting the things on her list, she noticed an older woman staring at her. My mother is Filipino, and she other woman looked like she was also Filipino. My mom sees this woman in almost every aisle. That isn’t unusual in itself, because when you’re in a store, you often cross paths with the same people a few times. But this woman seems to be in the same place as my mom constantly. She sees her behind the shoppers picking out cereal, staring at her. There she is at the other end of the deli counter, staring at her. There she is peeping over a pile of apples in the produce section, staring at her. Whenever my mom looked at her, she’d keep staring for a second, then look away and move along.
The first couple of times she sees her, my mom thinks it’s a little odd, but she’s focused on getting her shopping finished, so she doesn’t think much about it. The woman isn’t anyone she knows, and she thinks she’s probably just mistaking her for someone else. She see the woman again and again, though, and the way she’s staring at my mom and not saying anything starts to really freak her out. So my mom decides to try to ignore the woman, get the rest of her things, and get out of the store.
She finally gets her last item, and she’s feeling relieved as she heads for the checkout lane. Suddenly, the same strange woman that she’d seen all over the store comes rushing past her with her cart and gets in line right in front of her. My mom thinks this is totally rude, but she’s not the kind of person to make a scene in public, so she just watches while the woman unloads her things from her cart. While the cashier’s ringing them up, the woman turns around and starts talking to my mom in Tagalog, which is the language spoken in the Philippines. She says, “I’m sorry I’ve been acting so strangely. My daughter passed away a couple of months ago, and you look so much like her. I almost thought you were her for a moment.” My mom sees that the woman has tears in the corners of her eyes, and she immediately feels embarrassed and says she’s sorry to hear about her daughter. Then the woman leans closer to her and whispers in English, “Will you do me a favor? When I leave, would you say ‘Bye, mom’? I hope it’s not too much to ask.” My mom says, “Sure, that’s okay. I’ll do that.” The woman says, “Thank you” and goes to bag her groceries, and my mom starts putting her things up on the belt for the cashier. When she sees that the woman’s about to leave, she says, “Bye, mom,” and the woman waves and smiles at her.
When the cashier’s finished ringing up my mom’s groceries, she says that her total is $218.00. My mom is shocked; she knows that can’t be right, because she never spends nearly that much at the store. The cashier says, “Your mother said that you were paying her bill too.” My mom says, “My mother? That woman?” The cashier says, “Yes” and gives her a funny look. My mom realizes that the woman tricked her, but she figures that her best chance is to try to catch up with her and confront her rather than going through the whole story with the cashier. So she says, “Okay,” and she pays the bill and hurries out of the store with her cart.
When she gets out to the parking lot, she spots the woman right away, running to her car with her cart, going as fast as she can on her short little legs. My mom calls out, “Hey! Excuse me!” but the woman just keeps trucking and doesn’t react at all. My mom gets really mad then, and she abandons her cart in front of the store and takes off after the woman. She’s in pretty good shape, so she thinks she has a good chance to catch her. The woman’s at her car, throwing her bags into the trunk, and my mom’s getting closer and closer. She has her receipt clenched in her hand, and she’s determined to make this woman go back in the store and tell the cashier what she did and pay for her own groceries. The woman pushes her empty cart behind the car next to hers, opens her door quickly, and starts to get in. My mom realizes that she only has a few seconds before the woman closes the door, so she runs the rest of the way as fast as she can, and by the time she gets to the car, the only thing she can reach is the woman’s foot. She gets down and grabs her around the ankle and tries to pull her out of the car, and she’s pulling her leg, and she’s pulling her leg … just like I’m pulling all of yours right now!