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Ships Passing in the Night

Posted on Jan 19, 2019

A funny thing happened on my way to the dairy aisle…

Friday evening I had 45 minutes between dropping off and picking up my eldest from guitar lessons. We are not wealthy, these lessons are paid via a barter system – our dog food for their instruction. It’s wonderful and my eldest is really into it. Coolio.

I made a quick exit and raced to the nearby liquor store to grab some libations for the evening. We are celebrating a Dry-uary (ish), in that we only drink on Fridays, so I picked up a few things and drove to my next stop nine blocks away: SaveOn.

As I drove up, I found a beautiful spot right in front of the store. I’m not a fan of underground parking, though upon examination there doesn’t seem to be any reason why. Knowing I wouldn’t have much time, I quickly grabbed my shopping bag from the trunk and headed for the store entrance. I had parked further away from the curb than I realized so when I tried to step onto the curb, I actually missed and my foot went down further than I had anticipated. My body flung forward but my other foot was swift to catch up, saving myself a nice face-plant onto the concrete sidewalk. I stumbled, erected myself as if nothing had happened, and walked briskly into the store.

Inside I took a carry basket (not the kind with the long handle and wheels because I didn’t need that much stuff) and wandered aimlessly through the produce section. I contemplated dinner – daughter had requested caesar salad – and stood staring at the salad dressings. I meandered the store, not paying any attention to people or carts or anything else. I paused at certain sections and stood there with my finger at my lips, deep in thought. Eventually I put things into my basket which would contribute to our dinner and mosied down to the dairy aisle.

It was there that I had my encounter. Brief but poignant. I stood looking down at the butter thinking, “I just bought butter but let’s see what the price is!” This is not unusual for me, I always compare butter prices. Then I snapped out of my trance and remembered I had to pick up my kid in a few minutes so I turned and headed for the yoghurt I had come for. As I hurried down that aisle, a woman passed me going in the opposite direction and pushing a cart. She touched my arm and smiled at me as I passed her, and she said to me, “I like the way you shop.”

Without thinking, I blurted out, “Why, thank you!” and hurried along my path to the dairy at the end. When I had rounded the corner, her words finally sank in.

“What did she mean by that?” I wondered as I grabbed the yoghurt and continued on to the snacks aisle.

“Did she see me stumble?” I thought, thinking she was being funny because she saw me take a header.

Then I thought, “Oh my god. Am I wearing pants??” and I snuck a peek down at my shoes while I reached to the bottom shelf for the Sun Chips.

Pants: check. Shoes: check. Jacket: check.

Was there something else I was wearing which would make her wish she could shop like that? Was there toilet paper on my shoe and she was being sarcastic? Or maybe it was just my zoned out look, not caring who or what else was in the store. Did she think I was someone else?

Or maybe, just maybe, I was so zoned out that I didn’t realize I was singing and dancing while making my food decisions. I listened to the music playing. Nope! Didn’t recognize THAT song. Maybe I had been humming a previous tune?

Time was marching on so I headed quickly to the cash, not looking up for fear of catching her eye should I run into her again. I was somewhat embarrassed, either for her or for me, I’m not sure which.

It was one of those ships-passing-in-the-night episodes, but it has left me puzzled. What was it about me which made her admire the way I shopped? With a basket instead of a cart? Childless? Disheveled? Hurriedly? Mindfully? At SaveOn? Or was she being sarcastic? She didn’t seem to be making a joke, she spoke kindly.

I’m afraid we’ll never know the answer to this one. It’s obscure enough, though, that I’ll think about it now and again. Especially when I shop at that particular SaveOn!