I did the monthly grocery shop yesterday. The big one. The replenishing of the cupboards trip. You know the one? Where you get two of everything and the boxes are all super sized. Multiple jars of pasta sauce, rice, noodles, muesli bars, enormous boxes of cereal, a shitload of toilet paper (pun intended), toothpaste, the big eco friendly laundry liquid with tap, dozens of chicken drum sticks, big bags of fish, lots of big packets of home brand potato chips to divvy up in my own individual bags for kids lunch boxes (yes, it works out heaps cheaper) …. Don’t you have that shopping trip? Oh, well we do. Husband gets paid once a month so it is once a month that I do a big shopping trip for the cupboard stuff and then just grab fresh fruit and veg each week.
Anywho, I did the big monthly grocery shop yesterday. I was in my normal “in the zone” frame of mind where I was too busy doing the shopping and getting the best bargains to pay any attention to anyone around me. I was also fighting with the f*&ing trolley from hell. (You will be pleased to know that I didn’t attempt to do it in heels this time … I have learned the hard way that the shopping trolley always wins.) So if you were there and trying to get my attention please don’t be mad. Any snub wasn’t intentional. I was there for a purpose. All purpose and process (no room for joy, friendliness or casual banter).
Anywho (oh, I said that already ….) Get to the point? Ok.
So I get to the check out with my overloaded trolley and the very lovely check out chick says her mandatory “hello”.
Hello. I start unloading.
“Are you having a party?”
No, no. Just doing my monthly shop. I continue unloading and getting on with the job.
“You shop once a month? How do you get so much money to shop once a month?”
Um …. Oh …. Well … my husband gets paid once a month so I do it all at once.
"Once a month he gets paid? Is he the boss? He must be the boss."
No, no. He's not the boss.
I stop unloading for a minute and look at her. She is smiling at me. Her eyes are dancing. She has beautiful eyes. Almond shaped. Wow, her hair is really black and silky. Lucky bitch. I start unloading again …
“Do you have kids? You look like you must have lots of kids.” She’s spotted all the potato chips and shit.
Yes, yes. Two kids. I smile. Now at this point I’m not sure whether to feel frustrated by her banter or enchanted by it. I mean, here I am all full of purpose and process, and here she is being all sparkly and chit chatty. But I don’t know her. I'm feeling a little awkward. Two minutes ago I didn’t even want to know her. I just wanted to get this ghastly chore done and get home so I can get on with my life. But now I’m thinking, this is kinda nice. I’m feeling a little bit of that “country town friendliness” thing going on and it’s not that bad.
So I figure, why not? Let’s chat.
Do you have children?
“Yes, I have two children as well. They go to school nearby.”
Lovely. So do mine. We establish that they are at different schools but similar ages. We also establish that this is a nice community and good place for kids to grow up.
By the end of my trolley unload we know quite a bit about each other. The process wasn’t any slower and it was kind of nice. It made me loosen up a bit. I had a smile on my face.
As I sit here and type I can still see her face. As plain as day. She could well have just been a nosey bitch, but equally she could genuinely have been a nice lady looking for a new friend.
I’m not sure I’ll race to get to her check out again, nor will I seek her out for a coffee, but I reckon that when I pass her I will definitely look her in the eye, smile, and say hello. In a world full of blank random strangers, she's no longer one of them.