I do the grocery shopping in my house. It is actually a chore I enjoy, if I’m able to get to the market before a certain time. See, I’m a people person…but I’m not a people person. Too many fish in one barrel and I start getting, shall we say, less than patient. Everyone has their own speed when they shop, but unfortunately the market doesn’t have a slow lane. Or a fast lane or a carpool lane…
The express lane at the register doesn’t count. They kinda play it fast and loose with the term “express”.
Needless to say, I enjoy shopping when I can go super early and miss the crowds. I was gonna say go super early and beat the crowds, but that would have had a violent undertone to it that may or may not have been intentional. Aha ha…ahem.
Still, I’m not alone in this regard. Though I’ve been to the market in the afternoon and have seen way too many people to count (so I know they shop there then. Got it?), I do know that there are people in the world like me who prefer an open, empty aisle. Well, maybe they aren’t exactly like me. You get the point.
I see these people regularly. And we each have our routine. And what really strikes me as funny is that, we live in the same town (which is relatively small for the Los Angeles area) and we shop the same day, around the same time, and yet I don’t know any of these people. I never, ever see them anywhere else in my town except at the market on grocery day.
And like I said, we have our routines. I have mine, anyway. I hit one market first for certain essentials, then drive clear cross town for the rest of what I need, and then my final stop is a locally owned and operated produce market which isn’t very big.
The produce market is both my favorite and least favorite place. It is like Christmas every time I go in there, because they have all of these ridiculously fresh fruits and vegetables for prices you can’t find anywhere else. But it’s not really a secret, either, which means me and a whole gaggle of healthy bargain hunters are all trying to fit into a store the size of an ice-cube tray looking for a great deal. When the door opens it’s like Supermarket Sweepstakes where everyone runs for their cart and darts through the store.
The produce market is my last stop, and I hit that place when it opens. I’m always thinking to myself “Don’t all of these other people have jobs or lives or sleep or something?” I don’t, and thus neither do they.
I never see my first market people at my second market or vice-versa. I never see any of my produce market people anywhere else. Each market on grocery day is like taking a voyage to an unmapped island where inside every day seems like the movie “Groundhog Day”. Nothing really changes. The shelves, the prices, the people. For a while I even caught myself wearing the same outfit on grocery day. I had a Rod Serling moment last week and decided to put on another shirt. Same color, though.
I also find it funny that we each kind of greet each other the same way. You can tell the ones that aren’t morning people or the ones that are really in a hurry. Some of us are kind of quiet, keep to ourselves kind of people. Others have that smile on their face that is just so welcoming that I can’t help but be cheerful and smile myself.
My first market is the biggest, and the least friendly. It the most likely epicenter of “The Nod”. You know? You’re walking down an aisle and just kind of tilt your head back a little before letting it fall forward again. It’s mostly a guy thing, but I’ve seen the fairer gender partake of “The Nod” now and again as well.
For most guys in the market, “The Nod” is a plea for solidarity from a fellow Y chromosome who did not readily understand that pushing a cart through a store filled with enthusiastic, some say pugnacious, females was what the heavens meant by “Hunter/Gatherer”. And as man is disinclined to ask for directions or for help, so too a simple “Good Morning” became “The Nod”. Outside of a market, in the real world, we are led to believe that women are frail, frightful creatures dependent on man to pound his chest and scare away shadows in the night.
For neighborhood watch I’ve resorted to giving my wife an empty shopping bag in one hand and a full grocery list in the other and setting her loose. Men, seriously, you want to prepare your better half to protect herself when she is out there alone, just buy her a shopping cart and tell her to push it around everywhere. I’m not sure what mental/psychological/chemical reaction happens, but sometimes it can get ugly.
They don’t call it “Black Friday” for nothing. Where was I?
“The Nod”, yes. My first market is where I give and receive “The Nod”. And my cashier is sometimes hit or miss. Sure, early in the morning I could use the self-checkout, but I prefer the interaction with a cashier. It’s the only time in my life that someone else is doing something for me that I should be doing myself. In my head it’s like having a butler for two and half minutes. Hey, when you don’t have a money tree sometimes your imagination is a suitable replacement.
Today my cashier was the “I got the early shift but it is clear I am not a morning person so you’re better off not cracking wise” cashier. Luckily, my items were few.
My second market is where I generally get my first “Good Morning.” Cheerful, bright, happy. The lady who works the butcher counter is my favorite person. She smiles so much it’s like she stuck a hanger in her mouth. The second market is smaller, and has fewer people. All the people who work there are great. Very helpful. The produce guy is usually still filling the bins, and often asks me if I need help. I’ve been going there over a year and never once asked for his help, and still each week he asks. It’s like he’s stalking me (get it, see what I did there?)
Anyway, I like going early, having my routine. “The Nod” or “Good Morning”. I get what I need. Very stress free. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining. It’s all very pleasant and Mayberry. And at each place the cashiers thank me for bringing my own bags. Yep that’s me, doing my part for the environment. Okay, so maybe the first cashier I had this morning didn’t thank me…
But I did get “The Nod”.