APPLETON, WI: I’m a mother of two boys which means many of my waking hours are in a grocery store. In fact I think it’s fair to say that the better part of my thirties was spent pinching grapes. I’ve also noticed the grocery store is a weird place that tolerates behaviors other factions of polite society would consider alarming.
For one thing, in no other retail setting do you manhandle the merchandise like you do in the grocery store. The produce section is certainly the spot where the most egregious behavior occurs. There is pinching, thumping, weighing, squeezing, sniffing. Can you imagine going to Best Buy and thumping an iPhone? How about going to Kohl’s and sniffing the T-shirts? But in the aisles of fruits and vegetables no one bats an eye.
The grocery store is a weird place that tolerates behaviors other factions of polite society would consider alarming
The other odd behavior that goes completely unchecked and unchallenged is the whispered muttering of more than a few of the patrons. It’s not like these are unhinged people on some weekend pass from assisted living. No, these are normally upstanding citizens who given a metal cart, rows of shelving, and oodles of cereals to choose from start whispering to themselves.
I think we have a block of cheddar.
Do I have another gallon of milk?
No, we need eggs.
Sometimes a person will halt in the middle of the aisle with no warning and cause a log jam of customers. There is no swearing or offerings of select digits like there would be a few yards away on the street outside. No, people just accept it. They slide past you in deep conversation with no one because they too may be struck with the realization that they forgot the Triscuits. If you tried muttering this much outside of the grocery store, say next time you got a haircut, even strangers would start to worry.
It speaks to a level of comradery in the grocery store. Indeed, it’s the most human place you can go. No matter your wealth, race, religion, or political affiliation you have people in your house who keep eating the food you bring back. It’s the human condition with a list and a wheeled metal basket. If only we could take that total acceptance of oddities and quirks and bring it out of the fluorescent lights and into the sunshine outside, we would all be in a better place.