So, I arrived at a particular grocery store at 6:30 a.m.

Although there are grocery stores closer to my home, I prefer this grocery store because the bakery section makes spectacular doughnuts.

Chocolate-covered doughnuts filled with whipped cream, Long Johns topped with caramel, chocolate or white icing, jelly-filled doughnuts plastered with white frosting … you get the picture. They are made fresh daily and I have discovered over the years that I am not the only one who crave these confections of sugar, dough and icing, because if you don’t come early you may not have many doughnuts to choose from.

These doughnuts are well-loved throughout central Illinois and customers arrive early. If you are a late comer, not only might you not get the doughnut you desire, there might not be any doughnuts to choose from at all.

My grandchildren know of my addiction to doughnuts (after all, I had worked in law enforcement for 30 years) and they have inherited my craving. Since three of my granddaughters (ages 6, 8 and 11) had stayed overnight, they begged for Papa (me) to make the lengthy drive to pick up doughnuts this Saturday.

So, while these three little tykes were nestled in bed with their Nana (there was no room for me) I took off early to make sure I got the specific doughnuts the girls desired before they ran out. My thinking was, “Surely no one else is foolish enough to get up early on a Saturday to buy doughnuts.”

As I entered one set of doors that opened automatically to the grocery store, I noticed another set of automatic doors open at a second entrance. In walked an elderly woman pushing a shopping cart. I felt sorry for her as it appeared she was experiencing a medical issue and needed the cart to keep from falling as well as to place her grocery purchases. I wondered to myself, “Could this woman be trying to get doughnuts, too?” As we both walked into the store, I saw that she was maneuvering her cart in-between the fruits and vegetable displays which made me think, “Son of a gun, she’s heading toward the doughnuts!”

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I picked up my pace, taking a shortcut around the potato display and practically ran as I made it to the doughnut display case, moments ahead of the poor woman with the cart. I felt victorious at first as I opened the glass doors to the display case and shoveled my granddaughters’ doughnut choices into a large cardboard box.

Those selections included a cake doughnut with vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles, a whipped-cream-filled chocolate doughnut, a glazed-covered yeast donut and whatever doughnuts I saw fit to select.

As I was taking my time making my picks, the older lady, who was standing behind me, waiting patiently for me to complete my selections, suddenly spoke to me in a quiet, timid voice. “Excuse me sir,” she began, “Could I bother you to hand me a twisted glazed doughnut from the top shelf?”

It was obvious to me that she was way too short to be able to reach the top shelf. Besides, if she removed her hands from the shopping cart, she would have been unable to stand without falling. I answered “Of course” as my face turned as red as an apple. I suddenly realized what a selfish jerk I had been to race a handicapped lady, 20 years older than me, across the grocery store and practically elbow her out of my way in order to grab a few doughnuts.

I took a tissue from the nearby dispenser, grabbed the twisted doughnut from the top shelf and handed it to her as she placed the lone doughnut into a paper sack, turned away and headed for the cash register.

My doughnut didn’t taste as good as it usually does that morning.

Peter Buckley of St. Joseph is a retired special agent with the FBI and a former chief deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

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