didn’t know I was watching her.
let’s hit pause for a moment. First of all, that sounds creepy.
Far too creepy, and not at all what I intended to create for an
image or a setting. And second, she darn well did know I was watching
her. Or, at least, she knew I was there. (Which again sounds a
bit creepy. Let’s try again…))
had stopped at the grocery store. Nothing beyond a normal assortment
of items was on my list… orange juice, a loaf of bread, eggs and
a vegetable to go along with dinner. Pretty ordinary stop for
a day’s shopping.
wait, milk. I need milk. Don’t forget the milk. Back to the store…)
hadn’t eaten breakfast at that point… had work to do when I arrived
home that could easily carry deeply into the afternoon… and decided
to swing through the bakery section to pick up a donut or two.
that’s when I saw her. She was in the middle of packing up about
two dozen donuts, was moving along somewhat methodically and I
wasn’t in too big of a rush. So, I stepped to the side of the
aisle to patiently wait for my turn.
when I began watching her. And since I was standing all of ten
to fifteen feet away, I know she was at least aware of my being
in the general vicinity.
funny part of the scene to me was watching her select and pack
her donuts. In some ways it was hysterical and ha-ha funny… and
in others it was strange weird funny.
was using boxes that were designed to hold a half-dozen pieces
of pastry. And, for each box, she carefully slid out a flattened
sheet from a shelf under the display cabinet, looked it over,
and either slid it back to consider the next sheet or began folding
it into a container for her purchase.
was also moving trays of donuts from higher racks in the cabinet
to lower racks. (This was driving me bonkers, since all of the
racks were labeled and her new arrangements had several trays
in the wrong place. This would be bad enough when chocolate frosted
was being called glazed cake, which is an error quickly corrected
by sight… it’s another story entirely when moving something into
the gluten-free area or re-locating the ones covered in peanuts.
I don’t personally have allergies, but for the store to be making
the effort to separate and identify these things… yeah.)
this point, she looked directly toward me. I can’t honestly say
she knew I was watching her before this, but it was as she had
finished putting together her fourth box that she made eye contact
with me, and expressed an understanding of the thought that I
was waiting for her to finish. She politely offered an apology
for slowing me down, which was quite nice of her but unnecessary.
And that’s when the really strange weird funny part took place…
moved her cart away from the case, reached for her purse, and
pulled out a roll of tape.
as I grabbed a plastic bag and two donuts for myself, she had
begun sealing her boxes with the tape.
was… well… stunned would be a good word for it.
carry tape around with them. That part was fine. I’ve just never
before seen someone pull out a roll in the middle of a grocery
store. And yet, her approach to it gave off every indication that
this was an understood, probably done many times before, absolutely
natural part of her shopping adventures.
pause for consideration. Lots of folks walk into home improvement
stores with their own tools. Happens all the time. Ever seen a
contractor grab a tape measure off of their belt while looking
over some lumber? Sure you have… and if not, the image comes clearly
know of individuals and families that go out shopping with their
own containers. Not just reusable bags… containers… which they
use for making their own packaging and ultimately reducing waste.
list goes on.
this was a roll of tape. Not a pen being used to mark the boxes…
say as if they were being brought into an office, with initials
or some sort of symbol being placed on the box to indicate how
it would be distributed to co-workers.
roll of tape. And try as I might… creating thoughts of a past
emergency where donuts dropped all over the floor as a terrified
patron screamed “NO” while silently promising to never
let an unsecured package of baked goods ever ruin her shopping
experience again… I could not get over this woman reaching into
her purse, pulling out a roll of tape, and sealing the boxes.
yet… I’m sure… for her this was perfectly normal and perhaps even
common. So common, in fact, that she wasn’t even thinking about
it. Grabbing the tape and sealing the donut boxes was just the
thing to do before heading over to the coffee aisle. (Where I
imagine she would use the battery powered grinder residing next
to the roll of tape to grind the whole coffee beans she would
likely have selected.)
are my strange behaviors in a store?
the best buy dates of the milk? Nah… that’s not really strange.
Same for looking over the eggs to make sure they aren’t cracked.
do like to take the lid off things like sour cream to make sure
the seal inside hasn’t been broken. I suppose that’s unusual.
Not “pull out the roll of tape” unusual, but ok.
I being judgmental about that tape? Is it me? After all, I was
having a private conversation in my own head that included: “Tape?
Did she just pull a roll of tape out of her purse? Because that’s
just… that’s… wow. Look at that. Tape!”
I’ve brought a bit of my little therapy session to this essay.
I’m sharing it fully convinced that… sour cream packaging be darned…
it’s not me.
thing is… I also know that chances are very good that, if I could
ask her, she’s convinced it’s not her. If she was in a bakery,
they would seal her boxes of delights with tape for her. Just
so happens she’s in a self-service bakery at the local market.
so here I am wondering about normal behavior. Not deeply… not
losing sleep over it… but wondering.
don’t consider pulling a roll of tape out of a purse in the middle
of a grocery store bakery to be normal. I find it odd.
it the rest of her actions that qualify me to arrive at my conclusion?
Her box selection process and relocating of products providing
evidence in support?
did enjoy my donuts. (I also forgot the milk.)