I’ll state up front that Dave Barry should have written this, because I just can’t do it proper justice, but here goes.
I love going to the grocery store, not just because I get to buy stuff to eat, but it’s a people show extraordinaire. I pretty much hate shopping, it’s go get what I need and get out like most real guys. But the grocery store is different.
I first noticed that I liked going back when I lived in South Florida, where I spent most of my single years. People would get dolled up to go to the mall, out to dinner, the movies, anywhere. But ask them to go to the store and they’ll put anything on, anytime of day. I’ve seen some cuties that looked like death warmed over picking up something to eat. There was of course, some making the walk of shame picking up eats or coffee on the way home early in the morning.
Since it was South Florida, there were a few phenomenons. If you went to the store by the beach, people would shop in their bathing suits. Being a normal single male (walking hormone) at that time of my life, this made for quite a bit of entertainment. I’ll make only passing comments here about liking the frozen aisle.
The other phenomena there is that there were a lot of old retired cranky people, mostly moved down from New York which made for endless shopping entertainment. Where I lived in Delray Beach, they used to bus them in from the retirement villages, either Kings Point or Century Village, affectionally known as cemetery village. They’d hit the Publix en mass and raise the level of complaining to new highs. I varied between going to see this almost like going to a sporting event, and avoiding it because it could really grind on you. These folks could spend 30 minutes complaining to the manager about a 5 cent increase in the price of anything. If there was an advertised special, they moved faster to get there than the rest of the year, except maybe to the bathroom after prune breaks. Hitting each other with their shopping carts was hilarious until it happened to me. I politely informed the person that if they did it again, they’d wind up in the meat section.
You can tell pretty much the state of life they are in by what’s in their cart. The college kids usually had health food like cheez-its for breakfast, a frozen pizza and a case or two of beer, real cheap beer like old Milwaukee, Busch, Pabst or Schlitz when it was available. Young couples would have 40 cans of baby food and diapers. Middle age had progressively healthier food, the elderly’s had prune juice and polident.
The time of day that you shopped will vary the crowd also. The moms running households dominate the morning, Working moms and dads are on Saturday mornings. The folks picking up something for dinner after work are regulars from 5-7 PM. Anywhere from 10 PM on, especially are the partiers. Anyone after 10 in the twinkie aisle had the munchies.
Who don’t you want to see at the grocery store? Anyone you know usually, especially someone from work. Unless you’re already lunch buddies, the level of uncomfortableness increases dramatically with how far away they are from your cube. What’s really embarrassing is someone you know and forgot their name. People duck down the quickest escape route to avoid conversation like there was a nerve gas explosion for this one. I find it especially rewarding to see someone I know who looks like death warmed over at the store, but they spend extra time to be dolled up at work. I’ll always make it a point to say hello, even when I wouldn’t want to talk. One person whose name I’ll not mention does have her hair always perfect, I can’t figure this out. My son’s kindergarten teacher told us at orientation that seeing someone at the store was her least favorite place to see a parent as she would have to run down the kid’s behavior.
Back to South Florida, seeing someone you work with in a bathing suit at the store was like a touchdown and an extra point for me. Invariably, they acted like they were naked in public for which I got endless pleasure.
It’s a lot different now that I live in North Carolina and am married and running a household. It’s a contest to see if you can hit double or triple coupon day to see how much you can save. The old people are different here also. I heard the other day, “please get in front of me, you have a baby and I’m not in that big a hurry”.
Also, as I’ve mentioned, I have a dog, and we have to pick up the output when we take her for a walk. Only plastic (not paper) works for that. Since she goes for a walk about 20 times a day, we need a big supply of bags. So its always a struggle to get as many bags as possible for this while the store tries to cram every item you buy into as few as possible.
And about me, think I care what I look like? Think again. I’ll put on jeans and a hat and it’s off to funland, hunting for co-workers. Too bad we live inland now.