On the Subject of Groceries

No fiction this week, on account of a very busy, family-filled, holiday weekend.

When I go grocery shopping I occasionally look at the items on the conveyor belt; it’s a sort of game for me, to pass the time while I wait for the person in front of me to be rung up. It’s always fun to see what other shoppers are buying, and try to figure out whatever I can about them from their choices. But I always keep in mind that I might be wrong.

While cleaning out my fabric grocery bags I actually looked at one of my receipts. It was from earlier this summer: dry cat food, ham and cheese hot pockets, slimfast shakes, strawberries, blueberries, cool whip, batteries, and three six-packs of IRC soda (two cream soda and one black cherry). I wonder what the cashier thought of the selection, assuming that she was even interested in that sort of thing. The fruit and cool whip are, I think, self-explanatory. But slimfast paired with soda and hot pockets? Maybe she thought I was one of those dieters who think that replacing one or two meals a day with diet shakes means you can eat whatever you want at other meals.

Part of me wants to somehow tell her that the slimfast is my way of actually eating breakfast (I like to sleep as late as I possibly can on work/school days) rather than part of any diet. The hot pockets were, this time, for my husband (I still had some of my favorite pizza ones left), and the soda is a reward. I drink a cream soda when I need to relax from a day (or week) of hard work, and I rarely have more than one a week. Those twelve bottles (the black cherry was for my husband to try) will last me nearly three months.

I’m guessing that the cashiers don’t really care what I buy, though I could be wrong about that. Perhaps they like to play the same guessing game I do. Perhaps they have become inured to the items that they scan and bag. But there is a story behind each and every assortment of groceries on that conveyor belt, even if it’s something as simple as running out of milk. So I challenge you to occasionally look at that conveyor belt and come up with explanations for your fellow shoppers’ choices. Then take a moment to realize that you might be entirely wrong about your assumptions, or you might be entirely right.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “On the Subject of Groceries

  1. Making up those stories is how I kept myself sane when I worked as a bagger.

  2. arlager

    I love this post. Sometimes a good story can come from those little details, such as the mixture of slimfast and hot pockets (said in the voice of Jim Gaffigan). Also, I used to drink the Carnation instant breakfast in the morning cause it is filling and has a lot of nutrients, so I’m right there with you.

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