That’s such a cliché; I’m almost embarrassed writing it as the title. Still, it remains appropriate for my first entry on this mind-blowing blog. Brace yourselves.
I never realized how personal grocery shopping was before this job. In fact, I have always detested grocery shopping, making it a goal to “get in, get out, stay under budget.” In college and grad school I would do my shopping around midnight or 1am just to reduce my inevitable interaction with people. People are at their absolute worst at the grocery store. I made the mistake once of “just running into Costco” after church on Sunday. Three hours later I wanted to chunk all my groceries and drown my sorrows in a $1.50 hot dog and coke.
Now, 40+ hours a week of my life is spent at the grocery store. Little did I realize when I took on this position that I also became a certified counselor. bar tender. confidante. Women tell me about their yeast infections, UTIs, their mothers dying of cancer(s), etc. While men confide their work stresses, constipation, and swollen prostates to me, the grocery professional, trying so hard not to let my inner thoughts escape.
Really? I simply asked the obligatory, “Are you finding everything you need?” I see the food you buy. The food (drugs, supplements, beauty/hygiene supplies, and impulse buys) in your cart tells me everything about your lifestyle and the food allergies you’re suffering from. (Even if it’s not YOU with the food allergy, if there’s someone in your family or circle of friends who’s gluten/soy/dairy free, you’re ALL gluten/soy/dairy free.) I see all that. But then I hear the back story. I hear the “why” to what’s going in your basket. I certainly didn’t ask for it, but you willingly told me.
Grocery shopping is incredibly personal. It reveals everything you are as a person: your present emotional state, life goals, medical issues, dietary needs, and finances. I believe it is for this vulnerability we are at our worst at the grocery store. Please note, that’s not to say people aren’t polite, but going grocery shopping is not a leisurely outing. You go because you have to.
The building is bustling with customers who are completely focused on themselves. I see customers enraged with other people who don’t realize their cart is blocking the entire aisle.
“DON’T THEY KNOW???” No, they don’t. Moms are too busy reading nutritional labels to figure out which product is best for their dietary needs, while calculating prices to figure out which product is best for their budgetary needs, while trying to entertain a child or two…or four. Young adults are having a huge mental debate over the perfect [affordable] wine to take to a dinner party. Husbands were sent with a dreaded list where they’ve never heard of half the words on it, leaving them to read their wives’ minds or engage in the texting game. There’s not much room left in the brain to say more than, “Oh, sorry,” while slightly shifting the cart over.
I see ALL of it! Grocery goggles. I empathize; I sympathize, and worst of all I’m a comedic actor with a terrible fascination for your idiosyncrasies. So come on down to your local market, and tell Auntie what you’re eating today; I can’t wait to hear your story.