Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Among the Natives

My daily travels in New Jersey take me on a well-worn path from home to school and baseball games.  I am mostly able to avoid traffic and long drives and it's easy for me to forget how densely populated this state actually is.  And then I go to the grocery store on the weekend and I am reminded all over again.

Last weekend, my weekly shopping had to wait until early on Sunday afternoon.  From the moment I arrived in the parking lot it was clear that everyone else in New Jersey had also waited to shop on Sunday.  It was raining and as I pulled up my hood to walk through the parking lot, I heard a couple bicker over who should hold their umbrella.  The trip went down hill from there.

In the produce aisle, my first stop, I came across two women who looked enough alike that I took them for sisters.  The tall sister was pushing the cart.  The shorter one was complaining.  Broadly.  About everyone in her family and every thing they'd ever done.  I took my leave of this unhappy duo and headed over to the deli counter.

At the deli counter, I drew number 25.  They were serving number 8.  I tucked my cart into corner and went for bread and JT's favorite breakfast muffin before returning to find an entire area so cluttered with carts that no one could get through.  Why it is that we (and by we, I mean the shoppers of this state) park our cart in the middle of the aisle while perusing the selves?  This is not a shopping strategy suited to the fact that the stores are busy and the world does not revolve around us.  But never mind, one elderly lady was determined to cut through the crowd.  While another shopper and I watched on with increasing horror, the little old lady used her cart like a battering ram, slowly pushing everyone's cart out of her way and into other people so that she could get through the aisle.   A few seconds later, her fellow shoppers turned back to the aisle to find their carts relocated.  The chaos had been made worse.  Thanks, Grandma!

This, of course, is my biggest grievance about going to Wegmans (or any grocery store) on the weekend.  Of course it's busy, but we could certainly be kind toward one another.  Politeness and decency are free, after all.  Alas…..

I headed over to the dairy section, where calm heads rarely prevail.  The cranky duo came back into my hearing.  Shorty's complaining showed no sign of easing.  I would hear these two on two more occasions, the final one in the pasta aisle.  At this point, the complainer was louder than ever, announcing to everyone within her path that "they can eat the dinner I make for them or they can cook their own dinner."  As she practically shouted this pronouncement, I made eye contact with another shopper, a middle aged man pushing a cart like the rest of us.  He raised his eyebrows as the complainer loudly proclaimed her unhappiness and I smiled a rueful smile.  Then we exchanged a few comforting words with one another, agreeing that dinner at her house sounded as distinctly unpleasant as she was.

I got $5 that the dude isn't from around here.

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