Judging shoppers by the contents of their carts
I think I’m a bad person. Or maybe shallow is a better word.
What’s worse, I came to this realization in the frozen meat aisle of Wal-Mart.
After work last week, with my freezer as barren as Bea Arthur, I went shopping.
I started with my staples: mushrooms, sour cream, chicken breasts, turkey sausage, garlic, mouthwash, olive oil, string cheese and lettuce.
Along the way, I passed a dozen people steering cartfuls of various food items, and I began to see a pattern. With every person I passed, I’d smile and look them in the eye and then glance down at the contents of their carts.
I began to deduce a lot about these strangers from their purchases.
Older lady with two large laundry detergent boxes, a huge bag of imitation cheese and three gallons of milk – that’s the mother of teenagers.
Cozy old couple, strolling arm in arm, pushing a cart of shortening, Bisquick, the industrial-size Coco Explodie sugar pops cereal and five packages of Capri Sun juices – grandkids are coming.
Scruffy bearded guy with every kind of Swanson dinner, two loaves of generic white bread, large jar of chunky peanut butter, Old Spice and the twin pack of Tums – sadly, probably me in 10 years.
This little game I was playing in my head amused me, until it backfired.
As I stopped for shrimp at the fish counter, I pulled up alongside what I deduced was a single girl, about my age waiting for scallops.
She looked at me and smiled, and that’s when it happened.
She elevator-eyed my shopping cart, grabbed her scallops, and ran from me like I had just run over her cat, repeatedly.
I felt violated, betrayed, even a little dirty. Not like just-got-done-wrestling-in-Jell-O-pudding dirty, but actually uncomfortably filthy.
How dare she sum me up simply eyeing the things in my cart? That’s just rude.
But then the more-nagging question arose: What was in my cart that was so offensive? I quickly scanned through my items, considering the implications of each in the context of male-female relations.
Was it the garlic? Maybe she saw that and assumed my breath was rank. Or maybe it was the string cheese, labeling me immature. To be honest, it kind of is. I like to pretend the strands are the tails of some small animals I just devoured. But still she couldn’t know that, could she?
Perhaps it was the three-pack of bikini briefs, but come on, can’t a guy just consider a purchase for a while and change his mind? In retrospect, perhaps turquoise wasn’t the best color choice.
In the end, I didn’t know what it was about my purchases that scared her, and I couldn’t be angry with her for her judgment. After all, I had just been doing the same thing.
Just the same, I decided it was best to “man-up” my cart, so I added some (low-fat) beef jerky. That oughta do it.
All for the best, I guess. I wouldn’t have worked out with my grocery cart girl. She had ferret food in her cart. Guess she didn’t need yarn or more doilies this trip.
See, told you I was a bad person.
Now where do they hide the Swanson dinners?
Is picking up a date in the grocery store a good idea or not?
Tell me what you think on the Party of One blog at http://www.nevadaappeal.com
• Jarid Shipley is a reporter for the Nevada Appeal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org