Thursday, September 22, 2011

Eating Shouldn't be this Difficult

I'm a healthy eater. Please understand that when I say "healthy", I mean it in the same way as a person would say "he got a healthy dose of tough love", or "that 23-year-old blonde got a healthy payout when she divorced that 89-year-old rich guy". It means "a lot" in this particular case. Just so we're clear.

In fact, a friend of mine told me the other day, "I think that's why we get along--we both have a healthy appreciation for good food." I had to disagree. Turns out my "appreciation" for good food is not my most healthy personal characteristic.

So when they see me pull into the parking lot at the grocery store, the staff breathes a collective sigh of relief. Guys like me provide a lot of job security for folks in the grocery business. And I love grocery shopping. People who love clothes love to shop for clothes. I love food, and shopping for food is equally as fun for me.

But it seems to me that the process of grocery shopping gets weirder all the time. Maybe people are less considerate these days. Maybe the economy has everybody on edge. Or maybe I'm just getting more and more irritable as I get a little older. Yeah, that has to be it.

Last night I went to the grocery store, and as I walked through the parking lot, a lady who was hurriedly loading her car with groceries pushed her cart at me and said, "could you take this in for me?". She didn't say it in a considerate way, like she respected me as a human being and fellow citizen of her planet; she said it like a mother "asking" her child for the 500th time to clean their room.

I stopped, stunned, wondering if she thought I worked there. I caught the cart as it rolled toward me (not a normal cart--one of the miniature carts that kids push around), and said, "What?!" through my laughter.

Angrily, she looked at me and said, "Please? Thanks." At least she's polite. Apparently she has no sense of humor though, because she didn't think it was as funny as I did when I asked if I could also shine her shoes. Oh well. Clearly I was casting my pearls before swine there. So, hunched over, I pushed the toddler cart back to the front of the store, getting lots of disapproving looks, as if I had stolen the child who was once pushing the cart.

When I went inside with my big-boy cart, it dawned on me that I take my life into my hands every time I enter the grocery store. I am convinced that if we drove cars like we drive shopping carts, humans would surely become extinct at a rate unprecedented by any species that has ever faced its own peril.

If you stopped your car in the right lane and stood in the left lane to look at signs, you would be dead in seconds. If you came to a blind intersection and carelessly crossed or turned without stopping and looking, lots of people would probably be killed on the spot. And if one more person hits me in the heels with their cart because they're not paying attention, I'm going to lose it. Obviously I don't like that person's chances at survival either.

Not long ago I was in the grocery store, near the back wall, when a lady approached me like a grizzly bear was chasing her. She stopped in front of me and asked in a voice that could only be described as a mild yell, "Where's the deli?" Stunned yet again, I looked immediately to my left and saw the word "Deli" high on the wall, written in cursive. There was a picture of a ham next to it. I stared at it like I was confused, assuming she would look where I was looking. When I turned back to her, she was still looking at me, but now with that face that seemed to say, "hey, idiot, I asked you a question!"

I answered her as if I had really been pondering the question but was really stumped. "I don't know." I looked back to the left and pointed, saying, "I wonder if that's it." Finally sensing my sarcasm, I was able to decipher at least one swear word under her breath as she stormed past me about two steps. I left her with a polite "Good luck finding the deli!", then continued my fun.

How can such a joyful experience be so stressful for some people? How can a person be so angry in the presence of so many pleasant things? The only logical explanation is that these people have been hit in the heels one too many times by a careless shopping cart operator. It's only a matter of time before it happens to me.

Yeah, I know I haven't written in a long time. Give me a break. I'm not promising I'll write again for another year. There's so much I want to write about, but to be honest, it's mostly about people, and those people read my blog. They'll know it's about them and I'll have to face them, so I have to tone it down, which is no fun. I hope you enjoyed this one, and I hope you drive more considerately next time you're at the store.