Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lost in the supermarket

After work, gym, and shower, I hit Trader Joe's to pick up some goodies for tomorrow night's book club. The joint was jumping even at 9:00 p.m. As I made my way through the narrow, kooky luau-themed aisles, I couldn't help noticing a trio of shoppers, two women, one man. I'm bad with ages, but I'm guessing all three were in their early to mid-twenties; I noticed them because the guy was talking, loudly and nonstop, about their selections, as they dropped things into the cart. He was sort of narrating and...instructing his companions, as they moved through the store. "Now, see, this is two for $2.99, so that's like a buck fifty apiece. That's a deal! Okay, this here is a whole meal."

We seemed to be following the same trajectory through the store--I'd round a corner and there they'd be, coming up the next aisle. At first I was just annoyed, at the blah blah blah and the way they shuffled along in my way, three abreast, the cart blocking traffic in both directions as they conferred over the freezer case. But I started to get kind of fascinated, because why was this dude describing the entire process to these women as if they'd never been shopping before? On and on he went--comparing prices, urging them to "scavenge" for the less-manhandled packages toward the back of the shelves. It was like some sort of weird grocery tutorial. How to select food items and place them in the basket for eventual purchase. The women did not seem grocery-incapacitated; they were not, apparently, aliens or visiting foreign dignitaries, slumming and soaking up the mysteries of TJ's economical domestic brie and frozen chicken burgers. If anything, the group seemed roommate-y. I couldn't figure it out--was dude just a know-it-all blowhard, incapable of NOT vocalizing his shopping in real-time detail? Or had the girls survived to post-college age without somehow learning how to procure comestibles for themselves?

When I left the checkout stand, I found one of the women smoking a cigarette in the parking lot. (Did she barter goods and services for the smokes, I wonder?) I guess Groceries 101 had gotten to be too much and she needed a little break. I hope they selected a lot of prepackaged meals; if they'd gotten this far without mastering the whole food-market thing, they sure as hell weren't gonna be able to cook.

1 comment:

ar_kay_tee said...

You should have asked that woman in the parking lot what the heck the grocery tutorial was all about, and then waited for her reaction :)

Ya know, maybe that was the first time they'd been to TJ and were comparing organic foods to stuff you get at el-ginormo supermarket. I remember being really stunned the first time I stepped foot into a Whole Foods store. I'm still a little overwhelmed by it at times. Everything has labels with what the product is free of, etc. and you're standing there wondering why a product should be free of that particular thing. And until you've done the research, things like rGBH are just a jumble of letters. Although, it does sound like that guy was a know-it-all blowhard. And in the end, this last bit was probably just me trying to make sense of a nonsensical situation.