Are you one of those people?
The stranger at the grocery store who talks to people. Either prompted by something or totally random.
You know the type.
Honestly, I'm okay with it. I usually grocery shop alone after the boys are in bed, and so I'm not in a hurry. It's my time. And I generally like people.
One way that Benjamin has changed me is that I am much more aware now that people are often going through something. People often want to talk. To be reached out to. To know that they're not alone. Even if it's just a comment about how crowded the store is or how much the cost of milk has risen.
But sometimes they want to be left alone. They're in a hurry. They're in a bad mood. Or they think I'm a freak.
And that's okay, too.
I was laughing the other night about two Walmart trips I took, on two separate occasions, where talking to a stranger turned out differently.
I was shopping in the school supply aisle for some new Flair pens (love them). This was in early August, so school was just starting around here. In the long center aisle separating the food from the school supplies/cleaning supplies/baby stuff, there was a loooong display of really cheap school supplies. Most people were shopping out of those bins, but there were a couple of pre-teen girls shopping in the aisle where I was. They looked (and acted) to be about 12.
The first girl, we'll call her Timid Tammy, was standing there, quietly looking at the pencils. The second girl, we'll call her Loud Laura, was bounding up and down the aisle, suggesting things, telling her friend, "Get this notebook. This is the best one ever!!" She was so bouncy she just kept bouncing out of the aisle and moved on to other things, leaving TT and me in the quiet aisle.
TT worked up the nerve to quietly talk to me. She held out two packs of pencils in front of me and asked me, "Which of these is better?" I glanced at them quickly and said, "Actually, neither one of them." I reached past her to the Ticonderoga pencils, grabbed a pack, and said, "These are the best ones. I used to be a teacher, and I know that these last the longest and don't get eaten by the pencil sharpener." I knew as the words came out of my mouth that I sounded like a complete and utter dork, but I just can't escape myself sometimes!
She thanked me and put the pack of pencils in her cart. I moved up an aisle, just knowing that she'd probably put the pack back on its hook as soon as I walked away. A few seconds later, Loud Laura rushed back up to her in the center aisle, saw the Ticonderoga pack and said, "What is that? You don't want those..." I was practically hiding around the corner to listen to what Timid Tammy said. She said, "No, I'm getting them. You know that lady who was over there with us? She used to be a teacher, and she said these were the best." (And they most definitely are the best pencils in the world, just so you know.)
YES! Score one for the pushy lady in the pencil aisle.
I was in the hair supply aisle. I usually know just what I need in most aisles, so I just grab it and go. But this time I had a coupon for buy-a-shampoo-get-a-styling-aid-free, so I had to explore my options.
In the aisle with me, on the other side, were two teenage girls. I would say they were 14-16 years old. And boy, did they know it. One of them was there with her mom and some other family members, who kept popping in and out of the aisle loudly with suggestions and questions. At one point, her mom asked loudly, "Do you want the extra strength Motrin?" I had to keep from giggling.
Though it was just the three of us in the aisle, anyone around could hear that the girls were looking for a certain hair product. Now, all these months later, I can't remember what it was, but from where I was standing, there was some right in front of me. They spent awhile looking through all the other products and couldn't find what they were looking for. I knew I had in front of me something that might help them. So after they clumped and paraded a little more in the aisle, I timidly pointed it out to them and said this might be what they were looking for.
They looked at me like I had two heads, and I could hear them whispering, "How did she know what we were looking for?"
Ummm....the cashiers 18 aisles up could hear you! LOL
One of them looked at it for a few seconds, but then put it back. Which really was fine with me. I don't get royalties from Herbal Essences. (Though I must tell you I absolutely love what I picked; it's a leave-in creme for frizzy hair. I'm on my second bottle. Click here to see it.)
They met up with their crew (which is a fairly accurate way of describing them, especially if you pair it with Motley...) and I could hear one of the girls ask the other in a voice too loud to be a whisper..."Does she work here?"
It was then I looked down and took notice of what I was wearing.
A navy blue collared shirt and khaki pants.
Standard Walmart employee uniform.
Sigh...Score one for the rowdy teenagers.