Saturday, December 2, 2006

Supermarket Follies

I thought I'd share some recent stories about various trips to the supermarket. It's an interesting place, you know. It's frequented by a lot of interesting people. I guess I'm one of them.

My wife and I were at CostCo the other day. We were walking around the grocery side of the store, with a fairly short shopping list. I usually let me wife push the cart because if I try to push it, she always ends up taking it from me anyway. There was a particularly slow lady pushing her cart, taking all the time in the world. There's always people like that. So my wife moved to go around her, since we were done on that aisle anyway. I kid you not, this woman looked at my wife, got a determined expression on her face, and actually sped up so that my wife couldn't pass her. For those of you who have never driven in Utah before and plan to do so in the future, this is the essence of the Utah driver: you cannot let somebody else get ahead of you. It's a me-first world in Utah, both on the roads and in the supermarket. I don't know what's at stake here, but apparently it's pretty important.

I was at Smith's Food and Drug tonight, doing some weekly shopping. For those of you who don't know me, let me tell you a little about myself. I have a beard. For many people in Utah county, this means that I look like the devil himself. When it's cold, I wear my coat. I think the professionals refer to it as a biker jacket. Tonight was particularly cold, so I was wearing a black hoodie between my coat and my black and red bowling shirt. I wear black boots and painters jeans. I am currently missing a front tooth. As far as most people are concerned, I look like a miscreant. It's kind of fun. With tonight's grocery store visit, there seemed to be a lot more people avoiding me than usual. My favorite? He was probably just over six feet tall. His beard and hair were gray. His argyle sweater was about the same color as his beard. He wore slacks and nice shoes. He was distinguished. And he was most disapproving of me.

You know how cats and babies always seem to be most interested in the one person in the room that wants nothing to do with them? That's what I was reminded of. I wanted to mess with this guy. I always want to mess with people. Fortunately for them, I'm not really the type to actually do anything. Well, not intentionally. I first saw this guy in the produce section. I always attract strange looks when I scrutinize each jalapenos before finally choosing it. Each time I glanced in this guy's direction, he was giving me a disapproving look before turning away. I saw him again by the tortillas, and then finally in the Christmas section. Each time I noticed him, he was busy giving me disapproving looks. It made me laugh inside.

Finally finished picking up groceries, I made my way to the registers. There were four self-serve registers open, each with a fifteen-item limit. There was one customer checking out at them. There were two more regular express registers open, each with the same limit. One had no customers. And there was one register open with no limit, and three people in line. As I got into line behind them with my thirty or so items, two more carts got into line behind me. The women in front of me, with her cart packed as if for a family of six for a week, tried to occupy her time by looking at the tabloids, giving me disapproving looks, analyzing the line situation behind her, and finally moving into line at an express register. I moved forward.

The man who was now in front of me was busy loading his fifteen or so items onto the belt. He had plenty of space on the belt behind him, and did not bother to put one of those divider things behind his groceries. I reached past him, grabbed a divider, and started unloading my groceries onto the belt. Once finished with that, I put another divider behind my groceries so that the couple behind me could start unloading their considerable groceries onto the belt. They apparently felt it most appropriate to wait until I slide my debit card through the card reader to unload their groceries, in a mad dash. Perhaps they were timing themselves. It's important to know how fast you can do these things, I suppose. The cashier, who kept a fairly distant and bored tone to his voice when ringing me up suddenly sounded friendly to them as I was leaving. Perhaps he knows them.

I suppose if I dressed differently, more people at the store would appreciate me. Perhaps it would at least cut down on the disapproving looks. Then again, it seems like an awful lot of work to please a lot of complete strangers, and try to get people to like me that would seemingly rather adopt a "guilty until proven innocent" attitude towards people they know nothing about. Of course, by labeling them as such, maybe I'm just as bad as them.

I'm not in a popularity contest when I go to the grocery store. I try to be curteous to other shoppers, and give them the benefit of the doubt. If somebody is in my way, I politely say, "pardon me" to them, and they move. Golden rule, right? But I'm not trying to win some fashion show or anything. I dress how I dress, and if people aren't willing to accept me, then that's their problem, and my amusement. If they aren't willing to give me the same courtesies that I try to give them, so be it. I'm kind of used to it by now. Besides, it makes for some interesting people watching for me.


  1. One time I was in a check-out line, grabbed a divider, and started loading up the belt. The lady in front of me turns around and says, I shit you not, "That is so rude! You should wait til I'm done! What part of you think this is ok?!" I said, lady, life is too short you need to calm down.

  2. Though I don't have the "miscreant" look going right now, I too could care less what people think of what I look look like and have fun when I can. Recently grew a decent flavor saver just because I knew that kind of thing bothers some people in this conservative valley of ours.


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