At Busy Grocery Store: ‘YOU are gonna hafta be a good listener’

The grocery store was busy this morning.

All the parking spaces in the big lot were filled, and people seemed to be making their own spots along the lot’s edge. I could’ve driven out again without stopping, but I took a newly vacated spot near the door, and so I steeled myself and I went in.

Inside, the store was so packed that people had to wait at the end of each aisle to make left turns. It was the kind of busy where I didn’t get everything I wanted but just kinda grabbed what I could as I kept moving in the stream.

I know that I get impatient in crowds, so I reminded myself that everyone else was just as self-interested as I was, and that I needed to get along for us all to get through this efficiently, and I tried not to express my frustrations of getting stuck behind talkers and slow-walkers. I may have indicated some nonverbal impatience, though, such as when I ended up in in the “nutritional foods” aisle, the way forward blocked by two middle-aged women stopped to talk. One woman said to the other, “This is what I eat: I eat, like, meat and, like, sweet potato and vegetables.” A younger woman with the speaker moved her cart so I could get past.

I also got trapped, with my cart, in the yogurt aisle, behind two other people who were talking after a third guy’s cart wedged in so I couldn’t move. I told the buy edging up behind me that he could pass me, and he said he didn’t think he could move either.

I was in line behind five other people checking out (and all the 20 or so check-outs were equally busy), and I heard the woman in front of me tell the cashier that we’re supposed to get nine inches of snow, but “maybe we’ll get like, two, then everybody’d be laughin’, right?”

When it was my turn to check out, the cashier said to a coworker, “What a zoo, huh?”

But I did stay relatively patient, and I got through the line and then just needed to get outside to relax. As I was nearing the exit, I saw a woman coming in who had a baby strapped to her chest. She said to a boy about 5 years old, “YOU are gonna hafta be a good listener.”

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