Do people ever approach you at the market and alert you of current deals? And by people I mean strangers who are not store employees? No? Well this is why I write this blog and you don’t. I get approached pretty frequently by complete strangers who want to share their coupon findings, intimate details of their life, ask me deeply personal questions, talk to me about extraterrestrials or try and guess my ethnicity. I usually just let them stick their foot in their mouth with that last one and walk away casually.
I used to make the joke that I was a freak magnet. Anyone and everyone feels comfortable talking to me for unknown reasons. I’m not what I’d consider friendly. I’m not what I’d consider personable. I’m not what I’d consider a person who smiles unprovoked. That look on my face, it’s kind of permanent.
Yet, here are complete strangers still attempting to make social contact with me on a more-than-I’m-comfortable-with regular basis, so the freak magnet joke ceases to be a joke. It’s just a way of life.
What does this have to do with grocery shopping? I’m getting there.
When I’m at the market, I don’t like to be bothered. For some people grocery shopping is stressful and done out of necessity. If I could afford it-monetary and time- I’d go every day. I love lists. So there’s nothing more enjoyable to me than taking a list to the market, wandering the aisles at an accepatable pace and checking off things one by one, picking up non-necessities like cookie butter and frozen burritos along the way (those things are never on the list and always somehow end up in my basket). I never go to the market with anyone and taking calls or texts is not an option because it’s a distraction. Everyone has their quirks. Mine is being undisturbed in a sea of people at the grocery store.
So you can imagine my alarm (not surprise, however) when I was approached at my most recent visit to the market by a 50ish year old man with a very Haight/Ashbury-looking ponytail wearing a dirty colorblocked shirt, cargo shorts and possibly TEVAs (I was too scared to look). I was exiting the store when he made his approach.
“Zesty pickles!……::indistiguishable mumbling::”
Red alert. Nothing good comes from a conversation with a complete stranger that starts with pickles.
“Excuse me?” I was walking at a pace that would’ve been too obviously noticed had I took off running, so I tried not to slow down as he made an effort to match my stride and repeat himself.
”::incoherent mumbling…. 46 cents!” He was trying to say something, but he was talking so fast and I was walking so fast that it was difficult to decipher. I had to slow down. I didn’t have to. I just really wanted to know what the fuck zesty pickles had to do with 46 cents in change.
“Um. *Excuse* me?”
“Zesty pickles are 46 cents a jar! Can you believe it?!” He was so excited he could hardly get the words out. Genuinely excited about some fucking pickles. Zesty pickles no less.
Now I love a good pickle just as much as the next person, but I don’t stop to talk to strangers about pickle deals as they’re exiting the market.
I slowed my pace to a complete stop to ask him if it was a good deal. He had my full attention. If you’re going to get this excited about pickles, I want to know why.
“HELL YEAH! Hell yeah it’s a good deal!” I’m guessing the rest of what he said was an explanation of why this was such a deal, but he was talking so fast that his sentences were again, indecipherable. It was a little after 9 o’clock in the PM-there are very few reasons to make pickle runs that late in the evening. One of them is pregnancy. The other is drugs. The story I settled on was that this man had seen an ad in his paper for these 46 cent jars of zesty pickles, cooked some meth, broke the first rule of drug dealing (don’t get high on your own supply) and came to the market to make his zestiest pickle dreams come true.
As I tried to nonchalantly part ways with him, I noticed he was heading towards the shopping carts. That’s when I realized that he had no groceries, no baskets, nothing on him but the afterglow of meth use. So one of two things had happened:
A. He had come into the store to case the pickle selection to make sure that he wasn’t hallucinating the ad he saw.
B. He had completely forgotten what he’d come into the store for until he stumbled across the non-perishable vegetables aisle.
Either way he was about to get a cart to exit that store with 50+ jars of discounted pickles.
This was my out.
“Well, you better get your basket before someone cleans this place out and leaves no zesty pickles for anyone!”
Before he could say basket, I had taken 4 Olympic long jump-sized steps out of the store and was running towards my car.
You’re probably wondering why I even bothered to stop and talk to this pickle fiend. I’ve already been through the five stages of grief version of realizing I attract weirdos. I’ve reached acceptance and that’s why I have this blog.