While grocery shopping this weekend with my friend Jenni, I told her how it fascinates me to see what grocery combinations people buy. I think I would make a terrible teller because I’d be going slowly wondering about the items. I pointed out that in my cart I had french bread, ricotta, mozzarella, and Italian sausage. Someone looking at that would think, ‘aha, someone’s having lasagna for dinner!’

When I see the person in front of me buying NyQuil and chicken noodle soup, I’m going to stand back a few feet. When I see someone buying a home pregnancy test and a bottle of wine, I’ll stand in the line wondering if the wine is for the husband, the partner, to celebrate, to drown sorrows.

When I see the woman purchasing low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit, and a large Snickers bar, I wonder if she is rewarding herself, or buying it to sneakily eat on the way home. I imagine her virtuously eating the healthy food in front of her spouse. While he’s eating a burger and feeling guilty because his wife is so healthy.

I was very surprised to hear Jenni tell me that she has never tried to figure out what the combination of people’s groceries meant. I assumed everyone did that while in grocery lines. She told me she thinks it’s something only writers do, creating stories, asking ‘why’ and ‘what if’, and ‘how come’.

So I have to ask. Is there anyone else out there who tries to solve the riddle of groceries on the conveyor belt?

7 thoughts on “Groceries

  1. I don’t usually do that, but I size up other people’s things in different kinds of stores. I’ve stared at underwear and outfits, tablecloths, lamps, and then guessed at personalities.

    I stopped for a minute before writing this to think about why I don’t look at groceries so much. They feel harder for me to size up together. Like I get them mixed up with numbers somehow, and numbers mostly have the odd power to make my brain hurt. I do look at flowers on the conveyor belt though, but like a baby thinking, “Ooh, pretty.”


    • The line about looking at flowers is funny. I also like to look in windows at night, and get disgruntled when driving by and the homeowner has had the nerve to pull the curtains.


  2. I’m so nosy, I’ll check out your groceries, steal a peek in your purse, and watch to see what kind of car you’re driving. I don’t jump to conclusions, I’m just collecting information. If you yawn I’ll look in your mouth to see what’s going on in there, too. Don’t invite me over unless you’re cool with letting me look in drawers and behind doors. My friends are flattered by my interest but my daughter tells me to keep my eyes to myself.


  3. I’m ridiculously nosy too, and I definitely check out other people’s groceries. I read a lovely story in Yoga Journal a while back, though, in which the author was in line behind an elderly woman whose entire basket was full of junk food: chips, candy bars, you know. When the woman told the cashier “the snacks are for my grandsons,” the author was appalled, until the woman continued, “I want to send them a taste of home while they’re in Iraq.”


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