While in a grocery store not too long ago, I had a person approach me asking, "Do I know you?" Now if you know me at all, you would know this caused me to panic a little. Instead of my life flashing before my eyes, I was rewinding every conversation I had ever had over the last 44 years of my life.
Well, not all 44 of them since the first couple of years were kind of a blur between bottle feedings and diaper changings.
Thankfully, while I was in my memory-induced stupor, the person continued to talk. "I'm sure I know you. Do you attend ______ church?" It was Methodist to which I assured him I didn't. (Not that I have a problem with Methodist's mind you.) "Do you work at the hospital?" I replied with a "No, but I'm a frequent flyer", followed by a nervous laugh.
"Was your dad a teacher at ______ school?"
"Did you buy a car from my neighbor, Bob?"
"Do you have a twin?"
While my eyes darted around looking for Security, and my mind was busy matching every name to every face that I had ever encountered, he continued..."Oh, I know! My wife follows your blog!"
Then his eyes went to my grocery cart where he was taking a quick inventory of my goods. Part of me wanted to throw myself across the cart and hide my business, the other part of me wanted to deny it was my cart, and yet another part of me wanted to tell him to "Back off! I'm a woman on the edge!"
I am, but I didn't.
Instead, I politely listened as he explained how much he liked my salmon recipes (and they apparently work for steelhead too!), and then told him to pass along to his wife how much I appreciated her reading my blog. Really, it was very sweet. But it got me to thinking. Am I walking the walk, or am I just a judgemental wanna-be walker? So, I took a quick inventory of my cart too, and here's what I think you should know.
1. This has nothing to do with my cart, but it is becoming a regular "thing". Sometimes I go to town without makeup, my hair in a ponytail, old lady glasses perched on the end of my nose, and a flannel shirt that may or may not have the pockets flipping up. I am on a mission and don't have time for all that other stuff. Of course, this is when I run into a perfectly coiffed super-model from high school who not only managed to keep her girlish figure, but also knows how to work an iron. And of course, she always mentions how "tired" I look.
2. Later, when I run into this same girl with her basket full of Lean Cuisines (excuse me while I gag), I am now carting around a couple of gallons of chocolate ice cream. Yes, it is an organic ice cream, but since this treat doesn't come in gallon-sized containers, I have quite a few in there. (The good news, I also have a coupon, just in case anyone is concerned for my pocketbook.)
3. I steer the cart with my elbows. Don't judge, but with a Starbuck's in one hand and my cellphone in the other, this leaves me no other option. If my legs were longer, maybe I could learn to steer with my knees, but I'm not holding out much hope there.
4. I buy white vinegar by the case. No, I am not manufacturing drugs, nor am I pickling everything in sight. It's cheap, I use it, so I buy it.
5. If you look closely, you will probably find a couple of loaves of marked-down, white bread in my cart. And they are probably laying up against a jar of store-brand partially hydrogenated peanut butter.
Here's the real scoop~I'm not wearing make-up, not because I am tired, but because I am in a hurry. If I'm not properly spackled, it's because I had to make an unexpected trip to town. I am not tired, or sick, or lazy. This is how I look. If it's offensive to anyone, they can take it up with my parents. I really had no say in it.
~All those cartons of ice cream are for a birthday celebration. And since there are 11 people living in my home, and usually more coming over to help celebrate, we need lots of ice cream. This ALWAYS accompanies a made-from-scratch, baked with love cake by yours truly. And since my ice cream maker only makes a quart of the frozen stuff at a time, and I had to run to town for some last-minute ingredients, I can't afford the time it would take to make enough ice cream for a birthday party.
~Beneath my Starbuck's logo, is usually a regular cup of coffee. Sometimes it's a hot cup of mint tea. Always with half & half. Unless my cup is made of plastic and is spewing whipping cream from the top, don't assume that I am "sneaking" a forbidden beverage. Besides, my daughter works for the company, and I use it as an excuse to get to talk to her in between her other customers. If you judge anything, judge my elbow-driving abilities or the fact that my son is licking the handle of the cart...they both need work. (And my cellphone has a handy-dandy little calculator on it~and it's pink. Which somehow makes me feel a little less dowdy.)
~Sometimes I buy fabric softener or dryer sheets. Usually from the health food store, but not always. That said, 90% of the time, I use white vinegar for my fabric softener. I also use it to clean the shower, wash my windows, clean the toilets (with a little baking soda), wash the walls, clean mold...for less than a dollar, I get a gallon of the stuff. And for $5, I get the privilege of using the bottom rack of my shopping cart.
~The cheap, white bread makes great squirrel food, especially when slathered in cheap peanut butter. And speaking of the hydrogenated goo, this is the only stuff that sticks to the pinecones that will be covered in birdseed and hung around our front yard...to keep the birds from taking off with the squirrel food. It's also much cheaper than the bricks of suet that only last until the squirrels realize the birds got the better deal.
I have a terrible habit of looking into other people's carts. And sometimes I can pass judgement based on what I see there. I can also be very judgmental when I see how those goods are paid for, but the reality is, I don't know that persons story.
When I was a little girl, I remember following my grandfather to the Brach's candy bins. He always bought a pound or two of different candies; hard butterscotch candies, blue mints, peppermints, neopolitans, and even Jolly Ranchers were carefully bagged and weighed. Grandpa wasn't a skinny man (nor was he fat), but he was hunched over from a stroke and had to walk with a cane. Based on what was seen, one might think that maybe the candy wasn't a good purchase for him to be making.
Based on someone else's judgement.
The truth is, my grandfather had diabetes and carried those candies in his pockets until the day he passed away. When his blood sugar started to fall, he would place a hard candy in his mouth and suck on it until he felt better. (Usually this would happen if the Sunday sermon when on a little too long!)
And the neopolitan's? Those were for his 7 grandchildren who always knew that Grandpa had candy in his pockets.
So, the next time we're in the grocery store and run into someone we know, or think we know, let's not don't judge them by what's in their cart, how they pay, or whether they are perfectly put together. We'll never know their whole story.
And we don't need to.