Late Saturday At Kroger
Some of the people I remember from a recent quick Saturday-night run to the Edgewood Kroger:
- The older lady, in a proper hat, who asks me to fetch her waffles from the top shelf of the freezer case. “Multigrain?” I ask, pointing. “Mmmhmm,” she says, with a lot of song.
- The hipster couple with the skinny jeans so tight around their ankles that I think they must choose between flesh and bone to fit in there and, obviously, they have chosen bone.
- The greasy-haired shambling goatee guy with the limp, slapping loafers and the glassy stare, who looks down each aisle with the confusion of a foreigner in an alien market, who reaches for things on the shelves and then yanks his hand back and moves on, feeling kind of bad that he wanted that stuff at all.
- The two freshmen gangbangers with the tall toques, walking with a sort of bounce off each foot, side to side, laughing, it seems, at nothing and buying big crinkly bags of junk food.
- The grown-up young man with the black head scarf, intent casual-soldier posture, and serious look who doesn’t even notice me though I am standing less than a foot from him in line for the self-checkout machines. We’re side by side, strangers with a common purpose, but where I am looking all around all the time, afraid I’m doing something rude, he looks straight ahead and seems to see everything, simultaneously alert and thoughtful, though maybe he’s just thinking about what he’ll have for dinner or how he wishes he’d gotten to the post office today.
- The tall well-coifed young man in the nice suit, which I think had pinstripes, and who has come from the greeting-card aisle looking uncertain and glancing around a lot, over the heads of the other customers, as if for a person who will wave him down and tell him what to do with the greeting card he’s holding with both hands and the box of medicine resting on top of it. (I thought it might be film, but no one uses film anymore, so it was probably medicine.)
- The overweight and very short woman in layered sweatshirts and a tangled scarf, digging to the bottom of her giant purse, which she has hoisted onto the little check-writing counter at the end of the check-out line.
- The adult couple doing full-on grocery shopping at a good clip, as if they were buying Christmas gifts on the day before, and who constantly rearrange each other’s purchases in the cart and, though they talk a lot, do not look at each other.
- The large mother who is pulling things from her cart and putting them on the conveyor belt and the small son who is talking about things he will buy from the impulse-buy shelves, which is his way of asking if he can, but who gets no response from his mother, who has had this conversation enough times already and has found it most efficient and just as effective to say nothing and withhold permission than to have the talk again and actively deny permission. The son’s hands and eyes seem wholly absorbed with the candy wrappers and attractive logos spread out before him, but his head and his voice seem distracted and far-off, as if he were casually talking about candy while seriously contemplating the effect of the new annual numbers on the presentation he has to give to the board tomorrow.
- The tall woman with the elaborate hair who is talking loudly into a glowing earpiece, as if she were talking to the woman behind her, not in any kind of phone-voice, saying something I recited to my wife when I got home, because it was so dialog-y, but which I can’t remember now, because I said it out loud, but was something about getting respect from another person and being appreciated and how what people want from you may not be what you want to give.
One of these people was me.