Grocery Carts & Peering into Others’ Lives

Sometimes your normal grocery store just doesn’t have what you need and you have to drive the whole way across town to a certain big box store (rhymes with Fallmart) to buy a few household items. Okay, so my town is small and “all the way across town” takes ten minutes when traffic is bad, but still, I don’t like going over there. I save up my list of items so that I only have to go occasionally.

Last weekend I had to go, especially to buy a few cleaning things for the house before the big move.

When you go to this store in the middle of the day, it’s not very busy, so they only have three or four cash registers open.

The problem is that other people who go to this store in the middle of the day are not running in for a few items–they are stocking up for the long haul.

And that’s how my mom, who was visiting from out of town, and I found ourselves in line at the register with more than twenty items (so speedy check out was out) but less than the hundreds of items in the cart of the woman in front of us.

Look at her cart, my mom whispered to me.

I looked. The woman’s cart was overflowing.

What could she be buying all that for? my mom whispered again. (See, I get this curiosity about other people’s lives honestly, don’t I?)

This woman’s cart had multiples of every item in it–a half dozen taco seasoning packets, a half dozen tubs of mayonnaise, a half dozen of one sugary cereal, and of another sugary cereal, and Juicy Juice, and Kool-Aid packets, and cans of beans, and I can’t list everything. It was quite literally overflowing.

Maybe she was buying food/snacks for VBS, or for a camp, a day care, or an orphanage, or a graduation party, or who knows what.

But this was not your normal grocery-shopping trip. This was not stocking up for the sake of being economical. It was a plan of action… a plan of action for some sort of community (I knew you were waiting for the explicit connection)… and I really wanted to know what it was!

But we didn’t ask. We restrained ourselves.

You can bet we did, however, talk about it the whole way home, and then we discussed it over dinner with J, concocting more possible scenarios. I love doing that.

What kind of community could it be?

What stuffed animals can tell us about life…

I was sitting by myself in the airport, across the aisle from a young mother and her four-year-old daughter. The daughter had apparently been receiving a gift every time she got on an airplane, because she was trying to convince her mom to give her the next gift early. She knew it was in the mom’s bag and was sneakily coming up with excuses for opening the bag. The mom was having none of it. Finally, the mom got out two ¬†little stuffed pandas, apparently an earlier gift. The one was a large panda that could velcro its arms around the smaller panda.

The little girl held up the larger panda and announced, “Momma! This one is the sister!”

Not the mommy, not the daddy, not the brother, but the sister.

I liked that.