Actually, it IS Rocket Science

The politics of shopping

Last night I got out of class and made a trip to the supermarket so I could pick up a number of items to live by, because that’s one of the biggest pitfalls of being human: you have to keep replenishing yourself with weird things like  “food” and other crazy shit to survive.

I loaded up my basket with what I would consider normal stuff:  Vegetables, bread, deodorant, OJ, a bottle of champagne because I like a mimosa on a weekend afternoon here and there, and (AVERT THINE EYES, BOYS) feminine hygiene product!!!

I surveyed the check out aisles- I normally try to avoid bothering guy checkers when I’m unloading these things out of courtesy, but there were only two aisles open, and it was clear if I wanted any chance of getting out of here before I no longer needed said item that my only option was the male checker’s aisle.  I thought for a minute and realized that I didn’t necessarily need the item of controversy anyway, so I just said screwit and left it in the re-stock bin and proceeded to his conveyer belt.  I’ve seen too many looks of uncomfortableness from previous male checker-outers before to realize it is not something that is particularly enjoyable for either of us.

Guess it was a good decision, because as I’m checking out, probably one of my largest and face-scrunching-in-irritation events occurred:  My registrar proceeded to comment on almost EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM. that I passed through the check out counter.

“Did you mean to get regular blueberries?  The organic ones are on sale right now, you know.”

“You know, I’ve been meaning to try this bread.  I always forget about it when I’m shopping, though.  Huh, it’s wheat!  Look at that.”

“Champagne? What are you celebrating?”

I just have a low tolerance for these kind of things, I’m sorry.  In this case, I didn’t feel good about telling the guy checking me out that no, I’m not necessarily celebrating anything, I just plan on drinking. in the afternoon.  By myself. on my patio. with a David Sedaris book.  And now I feel like an alcoholic, thanks.

Let me be clear.  I’m perfectly happy to exchange trivial conversation in a check out line; in many ways it can speed the plow.  But it’s one thing to make pleasant conversation during a transaction; it’s a completely other thing to analyze every item someone is purchasing.  There is a difference.


A few weeks ago, the same thing happened after a friend of mine and I were getting back from the beach and I darted into the local store for toothpaste and mouthwash.  As I was waiting in line, a guy in front of me leaned over and leered into my provisions and pronounced loudly, “WOW.  SOMEONE’S GOT GOOD ORAL HYGIENE.”  Where I then smelled the rogue wave of some horrible amalgam of what I could only make out as nothing but hard liquor and partially digested mexican food.  I didn’t even have time to be irritated with the fact that he was inspecting another person’s items; it was like standing next to a bull horn that instead of bursting your eardrums, rather infringed on your sense of smell so offensively it was as if he blasted a Taco Bell crap out of his mouth.  I was so blown away that I didn’t know how to answer apart from nodding, because I was seriously contemplating which would be worse; to continue breathing through my nose and continue to intake this cloud of awful, or through my mouth where I would then unavoidably absorb these little halitosis particles which may or may not singe my taste buds.

The guy eventually moved on and I exchanged glances with the woman checking me out.  She noticed my face, which apparently had a feature of shock that I must not have been aware of, and said, “Do you know?  He comes in here like that All.  The time.”

“Geez, I’m sorry.”

“No.  I’M sorry.  He does that all the time. To all the customers.”

I made my way back out and told my friend what had just happened, and he proceeded to give me the best of what-I-SHOULD-have-said phrases.  “Yeah.  And if I were out of floss, I would have picked that up, too… Dumbass.”


So instead of being rude by ignoring the guy checking me out, I did the next best thing I could think of. I wasn’t going to spark conversation or add fuel to the fire, because apart from anything else I really couldn’t think of anything that smarmy to say at the moment, so instead I just moved back a couple of feet and retrieved my previous restocking item and slapped it down on the beltway.

No words or glances were exchanged after that.

So ladies, and I guess gentlemen, maybe even more so, for that matter, just keep in mind that a box of Playtex will more than likely be your ringer, your mute button, your refuge from unholy play-by-play of your bounty, should you need it in a court of groceries.  I rest my case.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * Mr Roberts says:

    But is it less embarassing when you are standing next to a GUY in line who is, himself, buy said controversial FHP for his girlfriend, wife, lover, close personal friend……? You gotta have balls to stand up to that kind of attention.

    | Reply Posted 6 years, 10 months ago
    • I’ve only one word for those hard-to-find gentleman in our Western culture: Respect.

      | Reply Posted 6 years, 10 months ago
  2. * Toups says:

    Really wish this story ended with him saying: “Playtex? SOMEONE’S having a period!”

    | Reply Posted 6 years, 10 months ago

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: