Is It Me?


I sped to the grocery store after work yesterday so I could get there before the evening shopping rush hour. First thing that greeted me was a sign taped to one of the entrance doors: “THIS DOOR IS LOCKED AT DARK.” Mourning the decline of the poor English language that I love so well, I entered.

Happily there were very few people in the store. One of those few customers felt it mandatory to park her cart in the middle of the aisle while she leisurely tried to remember what it was she was looking for, making it impossible for me to get my cart past her. By law, there’s always at least one of these types in every grocery store. Yes, I could have asked her to move aside. But what if I accidentally rolled my eyes or something as I was going by and she took out a knife and reduced me to a bleeding pile of human filet? Best not to tempt fate. Just like I don’t want to ask any of the clueless jerks on the subway to move their giant shopping bags off the seat so I can sit down. I’m sure their shopping bags are very tired. But not as tired as I am. Anyway, I made a U-turn and used another aisle as a detour.

In American supermarkets there are often plastic wands that can be placed on the checkout conveyor belt to separate your items from the customer’s just ahead of you. There were only two wands at this checkout stand, and the cashier was placing them down right next to herself, where no one else could reach them. You had to wait until it was your turn to be checked out so that you could place the wand behind your stuff because the person waiting after you couldn’t reach the thing. Oh, yes, you could suggest that perhaps there might be a better way to do that. But you just don’t want to ruin your evening with the possibility of a nasty encounter with the cashier when you’re almost out of there scot free.

After I unloaded my groceries in the back of my car, I was wheeling the cart back to the front of the store. A taxi zipped in front of me and parked in front of the store to drop off a passenger, precisely in front of the ramp where you push the shopping cart into the storage area near the front door. The passenger left, but the taxi sat there, blocking the ramp. I debated whether it would be better to ask him to move or just heave the shopping cart over the curb. After about seven seconds, he saw me standing there staring at him with the huge shopping cart and it occurred to him to move the car.

So often the simplest encounters with the inconsiderate escalate and turn on the aggrieved. Most of the time, I don’t think it’s worth the risk to speak up. You seriously never know who’s a loon and who’s carrying a weapon.

13 Responses to Is It Me?

  1. Olivier says:

    c’est la journée coup de gueule. je te comprends, quand on rentre tard, on veut faire ces courses et que tout va de travers, cela fatigue (pour pas dire autre chose) un peu. Apres on hesite, doit on hausser le ton où pas ? A evry, il existe un ou deux quartiers, ou je sais , j’hesiterais a elever le ton. J’espere que tu as pu rentrer sans probleme (et avec tes courses)

    it is the day of the cries of anger. I understand you, when one returns late, one wants to make these shoppings and that all goes from through, that tires (for different step statement thing) a little. After one hesitates, must one raise the tone where not? With evry, there is one or two districts, or I know, I would hesitate has to raise the tone. I hope that you could return without problem (and with your races)

  2. krisz says:

    oh dear, sounds like a bad shopping trip.
    Some people are plain ignorant and selfish. It not worth getting upset over them 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    Sounds like an unpleasant venture. I have NO PROBLEM asking people to move aside or whipping out the wand myself. I can stretch really, really far. Have a good day, Marie!

  4. Robert says:

    I thought it was only me. I believe it’s a symptom of the ME generation. Nobody gives a damn about anyone else. I was raised to be considerate to others and that’s the way I raised my kids. At least I can be smug about that.

  5. Brenda says:

    Jeesh, what a way to live. Time to head to Mexico!!!

  6. mariemcc says:

    Olivier, Kris, Kate, it wasn’t really a bad experience. I felt like a scientist, just observing. But it has made me realize how living on the East Coast of the U.S. has made me close up as a person. People are really wound up tight here.

    Robert, it’s nice to have company! Good for you! You have a right to feel smug about that. 🙂

    Brenda, I think you’re right! Unfortunately, I have to stay here a few years longer for financial reasons, but I do believe Mexico may be in my future. 🙂

  7. russiello says:

    “By law, there’s always at least one of these types in every grocery store.” It’s my father. If I’m with him, I take it and move it elsewhere so he can’t find it. After a long time of searching he either gives up and gets a new cart or finds it…in both cases blaming the [expletive people] people who stole his cart. He then gets stuck behind biddies counting their pennies or signing checks, and blames the further delay again on the [expletive deleted] people. Along with the “tearing down the old shopping mall to build a bigger one with new gizmos and gadgets,” I think these posts basically sum up the American experience.

  8. Sally says:

    What a horrible way to live- not so much the experiences, which can and do happen everywhere, but the living in fear reaction of being reduced to a blood-soaked fillet!

    Pondering that every other person you come across may be a potential death sentence is just so awful a way of life! I was rivetted to every word because the placidnes and beauty of your images usually belie this fear.

  9. mariemcc says:

    Russiello, I have no idea what you mean by your final sentence but anyone who hides his father’s grocery cart, laughing up his sleeve while his father curses the world, clearly must have a great sense of humor.

    Sally, if I truly felt that way, I would be considered seriously mentally ill. Of course, some people truly think I am. 🙂

  10. passante says:

    I know what you mean Marie. I think Washington DC has more than its share of people who think themselves so busy and important that they don’t have to consider or even notice others. Case in point: The other day, I held a door for a woman, who swept though without a word. “You’re welcome,” I said pointedly. She stared at me in blank incomprehension. I laughed when I read your post.

    To those who took you 100 percent seriously, I can only say, “Lighten up and go look up ‘hyperbole’ in your Funk and Wagnalls.”

  11. Sally says:

    Oops – seems like I missed the irony in your post….my mistake.

  12. Cy says:

    The term “DARK” is exact. “Night” would not be accurate in the winter evening. There is no reason why an adjective should not be used as a noun when it is useful.

    So you say “wands” in USA (where they invented I guess). I always called them “bars”. I always make a big deal of passing them down when I am in reach. Our folk in Brit-land have gotten pretty good at it after a slow start. Our Boscombe Lidl store has no track to slide wands in. The check-out operators just chuck them down with a controlled flip.

    People go into a dream when shopping. Few people conduct their lives tuned into the needs of others. We have to avoid letting it upset us, or suffer harmful tension. It ought not to be necessary to humble yourself by saying “excuse me please” as if you have done something wrong, but it is.

    Your photographs astonish me. Anyone would think that planet Earth was a super, lovely place!

  13. La Gringa says:

    What a beautiful, clean grocery store. All your photos are so beautiful, Marie. You must shudder when you see mine!

    I was once in a cast and on crutches and in the same day had two women knock me aside to get by in two different grocery stores. Tired of being pushed around and being a bit of a loon myself, I “accidentally” whacked the second one in the shins on the next aisle and apologized profusely that my crutch had slipped out from under me.

    So you are right — you do need to be careful in grocery stores.

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