Monday, September 16, 2013


Lately I have observed some of  dependable rules that define the people who frequent  those multipurpose supermarkets that sell everything from hardware to yogurt.  Generally I am  a leisurely shopper unless I am on a time schedule. I enjoy the trip and don't shy away from the casual conversations with strangers. Maybe if Mighty and Minnie had a better vocabularies-------.  

I find it interesting how even brief eye contact between strangers in the aisles will bring smiles, greetings and  start conversations. The product reviews offered are helpful,  the weather griping cathartic, and the funny, cart pushing comedian is a real treat. 

Sorry ladies but for me at least,  men more often fit the latter category.   I will often be rescued by a nice tall chap as I stretch but can only brush the item I want with my finger tips. Gallantly they will easily reach for what I need.  That usually brings out the usual "runt" jokes. Generally however, even in just casual chat, men just seem to be funnier. 

The people you meet in each department seem to have definite personalities and conversation paths that are associated with that department. Sometime people are chameleon  like by conforming to each department as they tour the store. Kind of like,  "when in Rome----."  I'm pretty much one of those.

The confident folks are the ones you meet in the hardware or automotive departments. They are the, 'I can do it myself ' types.  Sometimes I will run into a newbie to home repair or gasoline additives  who is tentative and will actually pose questions to this white haired old lady. I must look like a salesperson.  NEVER is it a man who questions me. I think that falls into the  "asking directions" category. Sorry guys, but remember--- you are funnier. 

In the health department, I either run into the quizzical, "Does that really work" types or the ones who are sure they know better and wish to correct my choice. "Brand Y is much better," they inform me.  I am open to either type. 

Clothing sections also brings out the different types. Some will cheerfully volunteer, "My what a pretty color." Some moan about why styles they like have become  obsolete when they try to buy more of the same. This crops up in the bra section a  lot. I can only agree.

Others furtively try to hide the fact that they are looking in the 2X  blouse section and try to distract you with chatter before you can see that.  Those in the " extra small" section seldom speak at all. They are quite smug about their size and just wear superior smiles. I can almost remember those days. 

The food part of the store brings out a variety of folks. 

The meat section is a hang out for those defiant ones whom you can almost hear the song in their head as they look at the neat packages of flesh. "If loving you is wrong, I don't want to be right."   The conversations there usually centers on the quality of the meats, the benefits of meats, or about the BBQ they are planning but don't bother to invite you. I get that same lack of invitation at the deli counter.  

The salty snack aisle has the "I know exactly what I want" folks as they zero in on their favorite. I see little perusing or conversing. It is like they don't want to be seen hanging out there. It is a quiet aisle, just grab and go. Same goes for the candy section and baking aisles. A lot of these folks try to look like they got there by mistake and are just passing though.

Dairy aisle does have a lot of perusing and questions about whether what I have in my hand is tasty.  Especially in the yogurt section. People are looking for flavor here.  Everyone just assumes that all brands of yogurt are good for us and it will do magic for our bodies as long as those little live cultures reside in the container.  Wanting to see an actual  photo of those "live active cultures," Google gave me this. 

Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Ok, that is not as scary as I thought it would be. At least they don't have legs. 

The produce section features a variety of folks.  There are some very thin, pinched looking vegan sorts who will volunteer recipes for eggplant.  Mostly there are the more well rounded looking sorts trying to counteract all the bad stuff they previously put in their carts. They put the kale,apples, tomatoes and Romaine next to the yogurt to hide the chips and ice cream. Surely good will triumph over evil.  

Oddly, produce is usually where I run into a lot of my friends. Most of my friends are gardeners and just like fruits and veggies but can't grow everything. They don't fit into the thin, pinched looking category--- nor do I. Maybe some day? 

I quite enjoy these brief little vignettes offered by total strangers whenever I hit the supermarket. They make shopping less of a chore and more of a social event. Also should be  noted that the majority of the talkers I encounter are retirees. We do have more time. Younger folks are most often in a time crunch.  

I did have a rather depressing encounter just yesterday but I will save that for another post. It was too much of a downer for this post.  

Do you enjoy  supermarket stranger encounters or are you in a hurry, perhaps have a life,  maybe you are luckily a thin size XS or do the attempts of others to engage you just annoy?   


  1. I happen to like supermarket stranger encounters and can generally strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I also love people-watching and just observing people in this environment. I love how you described the type of interactions in each dept!

  2. Patti
    You sure have them all pegged right on. Sounds like Costco shopping and that is where I have to go this morning as soon as it opens. In the summer I usually rush in and out because I'm one busy cookie but I have more time to lolly-gaggle come winter
    Here's to an exciting new week.

  3. Oh, my, no. When I go into one of those stores, I am immediately overstimulated to the point of fight or flight panic. If I happened to run into my best friend I probably would not speak to her or even see her. I just focus on getting OUT.

  4. I loved your run-down of the different sections. I reminded me of when I was younger (MUCH younger) and would be mortified that my mother would strike up entire conversations with complete strangers. Guess what I'm doing now?

  5. Who wants to be thin and pinched looking? I would love to talk with you in one of those stores, Patti. I usually go into them with something in mind, since most of my food items are bought elsewhere. Clothes, shoes, hardware, that kind of stuff is where you'll find me! :-)

  6. We don't shop at a big store like that, but if we did, I would talk with you in any aisle. I always talk to people in stores. I smile and am quite willing to help or be helped. We have some of our nicest conversations with the cashiers.

  7. What an interesting post. I never think about all of the different personalities in the stores... I am one who likes to take my list, get in there, buy what I need and get OUT... We chat with people on occasion --especially when telling people our favorite brands of Blue Bell Ice Creams... ha ha

    One thing which tickles me on Facebook is to see so many LARGE ladies posting very fattening foods and recipes over and over.. NOW--remember that I am a LARGE lady (even though I've lost weight). BUT--now that I have lost, I want so badly to tell others to quit eating that fattening junk and get healthy. I do refrain from that though.... Same thing in a store when I see a LARGE lady in one of those wheel-chair-type buggies you ride in, buying all kinds of fattening foods and junk. I want to tell her to eat healthy and she may not have to use the wheelchair thing..... I don't though! None of my business.


  8. I avoid the grocery store on the day that our senior living community buses people there to shop. But most days I enjoy it. I stopped by yesterday afternoon to get some deli meat. When the guy cut too much he started to take some slices off. I told him that was fine, what's a few slices more or less? He smiled at me and said, "You wouldn't believe some of the stories I could tell you. Seems like every Sunday people come in after church and leave all their religion at the door."

    I just hate it when customers are rude to the staff at the grocery store. Or anywhere else for that matter.

  9. I'd never thought about it before, but your descriptions are spot on!!

  10. Great post, Patti. Too many folks seem to be too busy these days to stop for a chat. Heck, they seldom even smile, I've noticed. I had never thought about all the differences in people depending on which department they're in. Now I will start paying more attention!

  11. I love talking with strangers while out shopping. Unless we go on a Tuesday or Wednesday though I don't find too many that want to talk. The seniors in our area seem to go to shop on those two days and they are usually the ones who ask me something or say something to me to begin a conversation. My shopping experiences has never been as pleasurable as yours seem to be. Where we shop sometimes there are most always several people who are just right down rude. We have found another market where people are really nice and pleasant to talk to but the prices are a bit higher. We shop there anyway a lot of the time just to avoid the rude people at the other place. Hugs

  12. Funny! My husband is outgoing and witty. He always tries to make strangers laugh. Since knowing him, I have come along way. Before I met him, I did not talk to anyone I did not know. Now, I am very receptive to strangers talking to me. I don't initiate conversations yet though.

  13. Your descriptions are so on! I too find men to be funnier and more helpful. Gosh I hope it's because we are interesting, and not just little ol grannies...

  14. Love this post! I'd never thought about the different sorts of people encounters we have in store sections. I do find more people that talk to you in Hawaii though. All it takes is a smile. Nobody asks me where anything is at a hardware store.

  15. Wow I never talk to anyone in the supermarket and no one talks to me. The idea is to avoid all eye contact if at all possible. Well I am British after all. ;D

  16. Keith,
    Some how I would have guessed that about you. Lucky are those that run in to you at the market.

    When I am like you and in a hurry, I go really early in the morning and have the store to myself. That is a good time to zoom.

    Wow, I never even thought about those who might find it a case of sensory overload. Shopping must be a very unpleasant experience. Don't blame you for making it a quickie.

    Ha, ha, I can so relate to the younger you. My Dad and brother used to drive me bonkers.

    Ah yes, you are one of those confident shopper. Glad however you would stop to chat if we met. That would be fun.

    I remember you mentioned before that you were a friendly sort in the stores. Aren't those check out lines interesting and fun?

    I have followed you for several years and have noticed and remarked about your weight loss and how you have kept it off. I hope you decide to post about HOW you have done it.

    I am so sorry to hear you run into rude folks. I guess living in such a small town like I do makes a difference.
    99.9% of the people here are very nice.

    Glad you think so. I do get a kick out of watching people.

    I dare you not to smile when you run into one of the "types." This town seems to have a lot of older people with time to spare. Almost positive when I worked, I was an in and out shopper.

    Think I would stick to the friendly place also. The price of rudeness would off set any savings at the less expensive place.

    That side of him shows in the pictures you post of him. He has such a pleasant, open look with twinkly eyes but then you do also. Glad you have joined the stranger chat club.

    Well I am sure that is not the case for you but am positive it is the case for me. And don't you know I will milk it for all it is worth.

    Maybe it is the warm air, balmy breezes and living in Paradise that loosens folks up.
    I am laughing at the hardware store comment. Bet Art gets asked a lot though.

    I guess that makes you a true example of a reticent Brit:)) I would not have thought that as open as your posts are. Good thing there is no eye contact in blogging or I would be missing a really interesting blog to read.

  17. You have given me a whole new insight of things to do and observe, the next time I go to the "Big Box".

  18. Remember - I live in a resort town. I must look like I know something, because I'm always getting queries from tourists about where to find a certain item. (I'm such an old-timer here, I can usually direct them to the correct isle!) And, I know so many of the people who work at the supermarket, that I end of spending way too long chatting with them. Gotta go tomorrow, in fact - I usually budget over an hour for the excursion.

  19. What fun, Patti... must be the one in Conway... As I've traveled about ... the various super stores were great fun to 'see' the locals.

    I've met some really nifty people ... one Greeter and I talked for a long time ... believe it was Vermont... gave me a bazillion places to go and see. love it

    my pet peeve and someone is going to slap me one day ... but I can NOT stand for people to block the aisles. rude. A couple of days ago... this lady with her little granddaughter took up a whole aisle giving her a lesson on how to choose vegetables.

    excuse me, please. She looks at me. I say... well? I guess I could go around but I don't want to.

    I moved her damn buggy. jeeeeeeeez

    she needs to be taught shopping etiquette... glad to oblige.

  20. I very seldom go to those kinds of stores. Almost all of my grocery shopping is done in a grocery supermarket. And no, I don't usually have conversations with strangers. Usually I just want to get done and get out.
    Your way does sound like much more fun.

  21. I am too often in a hurry to get into a conversation in a store like that, unless there is a line at the check-out. But if I am spoken to, I always respond.

  22. This makes me very nostalgic for the days when I use to be in the Super Market at least three times a week....Because of my confinement---(going on close to nine years now----OY!) I am NEVER in any markets of any kind, anymore.
    Back in the day---Most of the time I enjoyed shopping. And I very much enjoyed the interactions with strangers and always enjoyed running into a friend...! If I was in a hurry----it was pick up everything I need quickly and with great speed---No talking to anyone but the Check-out person----But...if NOT in a hurry, I very much enjoyed the exchanges on just about any food one might be asked about OR, that I needed to find out about...It could be lots of fun!
    Hearing about how crowded everything is now here in L.A., I'm not sure I would enjoy shopping the way I once did....But you make it all sound quite wonderful Patti and I wish I could go shopping with you, right now.... YOU Have such a Great time...!

  23. Oh my. I'm not the shopper in our family. It appears I've been missing way to much....:)

  24. Dear Arkansas Patti, like you, I enjoy those casual encounters we have in hardware stores and places like Costco and large grocery stories like Price Chopper. And like you, I've noticed that those of us who are retired and not on a time line have more of a tendency to share our thoughts and laughter as we push our cart through produce. Your posting really had me wheeling an imaginary cart with you as you met so many delightful people.

    I've been a vegetarian now for 32 years, but I've always struggled with weight because of a medication I've taken for the last 37 years. So I have to resist those snack and ice cream aisles.

    But yesterday I just felt like that "L'oreal" ad--the one that says, "And I'm worth it." So I bought a canister of Pringles, a small one-serving bag of potato chips, and another small bag of Fritos. And I came home and ate it all!!!! Ah, the Weight Watchers scale is going to trip me up this Thursday! Peace.

  25. Muffy,
    Look around-- there are all kinds of sights to see and people to study if you have the time.

    Ah, you are a girl after my own heart by actually budgeting time. Way to go.

    Shopping etiquette might be a good post for you to write. I am so easy going that it rarely bothers me. The ones that really bother me are the sour smelling ones. Phew.

    Linda Reeder,
    I was like you when I worked. Those with busy lives can't take their time to shop.

    Long check out lines do go faster don't they when we have conversations? Me too.

    Aww, I am so sorry you can no longer enjoy this free pleasure but glad you were one of the talkers when you could.
    We would have a good time wouldn't we?

    It is not too late good man. Just think, right now, your wife is having all the fun.

    I had to laugh. Your choice of Pringles is also mine when I wish to sin via food. I like those handy little packs of 100 calories each. The only problem is they come in 12 packs. My undoing every time also. But you know, we are worth it.

  26. Whenever I go to the supermarket I always meet one or two acquaintances and then we start asking:"How are you?"And often I hear a lot of trouble which I didn't know. I feel really sorry for the bad things they experienced. Most of the time everybody say:"Good, I am fine, how about you?"Even in Australia I meet friends of my daughter's who start a conversation with:"How are YOU??"with the accent on you.
    Supermarkets are real meetingplaces. Only the coffee is missing.
    Thanks for your visit Patti! Have a great week.

  27. Wonderful post Patti, and certainly brought back some memories for me of when I used to work in a fruit and veg department of a supermarket (at the young and impressionable age of 18). You are right about the "confident" ones in the hardware and automotive departments. A certain degree of swagger and banter is required in those places!

    Sad that you had a recent "depressing encounter", and hope all is well with you. Thank you for lifting our spirits with your blog. Bless you! xx

  28. I enjoy walking up and down the aisles slowly and talking to my neighbors - I live in a small town so sometimes run into friends or neighbors at the grocery or farmer's market. I love to grocery shop!

  29. Well I would like to tell you I am the XS size and ignore everyone but like you mentioned I can just barely remember those days. haha
    I read this post with a visual of you walking the grocery isle and meeting folks. Of course like most of your post I also had a big smile on my face while reading it.
    You always bring me up when I come by for a visit. Here lately all I have id depressing news.
    I am going to try and post tonight if I can of course with more bad news. I miss writing funny post.
    Hope your well and keep shopping. You never know who might come by and say hello.

  30. How interesting. I don't think I ever thought of it as different folks fitting into different personalities that fit the departments where they work. I will check it out the next time I shop ... which is not my favorite thing to do, by the way.

  31. I'm more of the "git er done" and get the heck outta there type, but I do like smiling, friendly people. Especially at the check out...That one person can totally destroy my otherwise happy mood with a single glare, sniff, or even just plain silence.

  32. I do enjoy it! The Post Office line is another good spot unless the line is too slow. Then folks get too surly to talk.

  33. Reader Wil,
    That is true here also Wil. We call the local Walmart the social hub of our little town. Wouldn't coffee be a nice touch.

    That was the word I was looking for, swagger. That perfectly describes them.
    I may post about the depressing one later. It just didn't fit this post.

    I live in a small town also and it is a great way to get caught up with friends.

    Well at least we don't have to worry about being snooty size X smalls. I am sorry your family have taken such hits lately. Hope they both heal soon.

    Sorry, I wasn't clear on that, I was referring to the customers but now you have me thinking about the employees. I'll have to check that out. Thanks.

    I know what you mean. I really work on killing them with kindness. Sometimes they just have had a bad day.

    Mary lee,
    Oh yes, the post office especially around Christmas time. You learn life stories then.

  34. I love supermarket interactions. To em the worse are the people who you look at them, smile, say good morning or good afternoon, and nothing. Just a blank stare as though you were not even there :P

  35. Encounters and advice, solicited or otherwise welcomed here. Hubby does the grocery shopping while I pick up the few toiletries and OTC meds then find a bench to read or chat with other "waiters"while waiting for Hubby.

    My stamina for shopping is better but still not to pre-stroke level. But the waiting can be entertaining, especially with someone willing to tell me their story. And everyone has one.