Relationships Defined by How People Interact While Shopping for Groceries


I am a bachelor and as such do most of my grocery shopping by and for myself. Grocery shopping isn't a high-risk activity so you can pretty much perform it on auto-pilot if you have either a decent idea what you came in for or, you know, a list. This leaves a lot of synapses free for random firings triggered by random sensory inputs, the most entertaining of which are auditory.

New Roommates

These are easy to spot. If it's guys they are filling the cart up with beer and meat. If it's females they are getting two of every cleaning product known to humankind. Either gender is justifying with irrefutable logic every single choice of theirs as being the only sane and logical choice because blah blah blah. Non-stop talking. The girls might take 20 minutes to decide which bathroom soap to buy.

Newly in Love Douche-bags

Very similar to New Roommates except all the discussions are ramped up a couple of notches. Every choice of every item is accompanied by a treatise on morality, ethics and wacked-out religions. Since they are trying to fast-track to a meaningful relationship but can't admit to it by sitting down and itemizing their similarities, dissimilarities and deal-breakers, they are using shopping as a way of determining these issues.

These are the most common and easy-to-spot people.

Lonely Dumpling

Quite a few people wander the aisles glued to their cell phone yapping non-stop. There must be an extremely tolerant friend on the other end because Dumpling never pauses long enough for the listener to get a word in edgewise.

It took me a while to identify the Lonely Dumpling because supermarket encounters tend to be very fleeting — rarely more than a few seconds at most. The encounter needs to have left an impression for me to be able to recognize someone several minutes later in a different aisle. And by nature, the Dumplings tend to be unremarkable even from an auditory perspective, the preferred intonation for the monologue being the monotone. But yes, there she is, same lady, still yapping away the same inanities as earlier.

I try to eavesdrop as much as possible without being too obvious. The preferred topics are:

  1. how their daughter is sleeping with a tattooed biker;
  2. how their mother-in-law is ruining her life;
  3. how their neighbor is breaking the association bylaws...

ad nausium.

Battered Husband

Another cell phone slave, but this time he's bound to the spouse to who he is trying to relate the discrepancies between his marching orders, the coupons he has in his hand and what is reality inside the actual market.

You told me to get the Charmin 24-pack but you gave me a coupon for Charmin 12-pack. This store doesn't have Charmin in 12- or 24-packs. I can see Charmin 6-packs and Cottonelle 12-packs and Scott 24-packs but there are no Charmin 24-packs. What do you mean I'm in the wrong store? You told me to go to Ralphs so I went to Ralphs. Oh, you meant Albertson's? Why did you say Ralphs when you meant Albertsons? Now it's my fault that I went to the store you told me to instead of the store you really meant? Do you want me to leave and go to Albertson's?