Learning about people

and myself in the process.

I’ve always been a people watcher. Like ants in an anthill, we all move about doing whatever it is that we’re supposed to be doing. Sometimes it’s in a random fashion; other times it’s very organized. These days, random is bad; organized is good. Let me tell you about yesterday.

One of my wife and my “together” things is grocery shopping. That’s been cut back quite a bit these days as the local grocery store encourages only one person per family while shopping. Since I have a sincere need to impulse buy, more often than not, I’m the one left out. It’s easier on the finances

Yesterday, we needed a couple of things but there was a loaf of banana bread going in the oven. Questioning my ability to take it out when the beeper went, I elected to go shopping instead.

So, I took the ever-present post-it note and off my mask and I went. The post-it note items weren’t in “shopping order” but I should be able to figure it out. Fortunately, there wasn’t a need to line up and I went right in. A shot of hand sanitizer and I was off. Even though I was only to pick up two or three things, I knew my shortcomings and so grabbed a cart.

Like most stores these days, there are arrows on the floors to direct you through the maze that’s a supermarket. Actually, the aisles are kind of easy since they just go east and west; it’s the fruits, vegetables, and breads section that is on 45 degree angles. Here, following the arrows is more difficult.

Within seconds, I realized that there are two kinds of people. Those that follow arrows and those that don’t. I realize that I’m in the former category. After all, I’m a product of the educational system and we know all about rules. Especially these days. A few of the others not so much. There was a moment when I realized why people get angry in public places. This lady had gone against the arrows and was checking out the watermelons. That was on my list. So, I could stand there and wait; I could cause an altercation; or I could opt for something else. The apples looked nice.

I’ve been through that store a million times and should have the location of everything memorized. But, the wine section seemed to have tripled or more in size and so some things had been moved. I lingered at the wine section for a while admiring all the labels and then pulled the trigger. Who doesn’t like a good bottle of Australian Shiraz?

I had to pick up eggs. I knew exactly where to find them because they’re in the refrigerated case at the back. I also knew that if I brought home eggs with any pre-cracked I’d be in trouble so I’d better check them before picking them up. As it turns out, there was a short line of others who were following the same directions. I couldn’t substitute eggs so I had no choice but to stay in line. You see, if I followed the arrows away from the eggs, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d be able to loop around and get back here again.

Next up, shaving gel. I’ve bought it a million times and knew exactly where it was. Confidently, I strode up the aisle and turned to where I thought it should be. Shampoo! They’d moved the shaving stuff backwards and I had walked right by it. Now, I could turn right and walk back to get it but that’s going against the arrows. There were people watching. Then, wisdom from my Driver’s Ed teacher clicked in. Four lefts equals one right. I did the loop and that took me down the dog food aisle. Oh, Jaimie would like these treats so I grabbed a bag so that it looked like I was going there on purpose. A couple more lefts and I was in front of the shaving gel and got some.

By now, I had weaved my way up and down aisles and I was at the far side of the store. I was at the frozen dinner aisle and nothing there was on my list. I was at the end. So, apparently were the arrows. There was no indication on the floor about how to get back. I looked to the left and there were no arrows. Off I went!

This section could best be described as the craft beer and waffles centre of the store. With no arrows though, I felt a sense of freedom and relaxed just a bit. I better buy something because, well, just because. I got some Walkerville craft beer. David Garlick would be proud of me supporting his old hood.

Now, the final challenge – how to get to the cashouts. All the arrows were going against me. I paused for a minute, I’m sure I looked like a dummy pretending I was interested in a box of waffles, until people had passed. Swiftly, I walked again the arrows and got to the checkouts. There was a young lady there directing us to balance off the lines and to sterilize things between customers. I did now have more than eight items and I needed a register that would check out alcohol. No problem.

A squirt of exit sanitizer and I was out of there.

My learnings:

  • not everyone follows the rules
  • following the rules and the arrows can be stressful
  • I understand why people are concerned about the amount of alcohol consumption these days
  • I fully appreciate why people phone in their orders and get curb pickup
  • My wife is a saint for navigating all this so much better than me

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

3 thoughts on “Learning about people”

  1. Doug, Dean Shareski wrote a blog post a while ago about a shopping trip to Anthropology for his wife. This post reminded me of that, and both made me chuckle. Glad you made it through the grocery store and with only a couple of extra items. 🙂



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