tales from the grocery store
It's funny that I posted yesterday about my difficulty making friends lately, because a few hours later I found that I had unwittingly become best friends with the produce lady at Kroger.
I see this woman occasionally. She's big and burly, outspoken, and hard to miss. She chatted us up by the deli counter last week, always eager to say hi to Gracie while Gracie clings to me for dear life, but that's as far as our interaction has ever gone. I've found that grocery shopping on weekday mornings is so much better than weekends. Not only is it far less crowded, but the employees are so much friendlier you'd think Kroger stole them from Chick-fil-a. The young man at the deli counter always gives Gracie a free slice of American cheese. I'm tempted to invite him to my someday book club.
But back to the produce lady. She cornered us by the berries within 4 seconds of us entering the building, and in a strange turn of events, Gracie smiled and waved to her.
"There's my girl!!!" -produce lady
"Is she walking yet? She's so cute!"
Oh, she's talking about Gracie. Phew.
"Aurora didn't walk for a long time. She wasn't interested at all, and then one day she just got up and went for it."
Who is Aurora? Does she have me confused with someone else?
She then proceeded to pull out her phone out and flip through pictures of her grandkids, giving me a rundown of their personalities while I feigned enthusiasm. She was very kind, but it's hard to pretend to be excited about random children when all I'm trying to do is pick out an acceptable pint of raspberries and keep my daughter from climbing out of the cart. Plus, in this world of Facebook posts warning of scary people trying to kidnap your kids at Target and the grocery store, I'm wary of people who show us more than a little attention.
I smiled and nodded for awhile until she leaned in close and said "Did you hear about the toddler in Orlando?" Ugh. Yes, I had. I instinctively reached out to Gracie. She told me she had taken her grandkids to Disney World last week and had been on that same spot on that same beach on Friday. My heart sank. It could've been any one of our babies. She put her hand on mine and told me to hug Gracie extra tight tonight. I walked away feeling like we had almost developed some kind of strange friendship.
I sauntered off to grab the rest of the fruits and vegetables I needed. I was looking at fresh bunches of spinach when I heard the boisterous voice of none other than PL behind me. How dare she befriend someone else right in front of me! I turned around to see what was going on and saw her talking to a girl I had graduated high school with. I whipped my head back around and pretended to closely inspect the spinach until she left, listening to her boyfriend brag to PL about what a good cook she is. I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, but Gracie was busy scream-shouting "a-da!" and then I accidentally did the same once the sprayers came on and partially soaked me while I had my head in the leafy greens.
I decided to finish my vegetable perusal later and hightailed it to an out-of-the-way aisle to hide in until danger had passed. I pulled my phone out to tell James what happened in a series of dramatic, all-caps text messages, only to look up and see the girl from high school walking right past me. I froze in place. By the grace of God and God alone, she didn't notice me.
I made my way back to the produce section, only for PL to come by and pinch G's toes by the banana display. I was still so flustered by the impromptu high school reunion and completely thrown out of whack that I didn't notice the produce bag I grabbed had a hole in it. One by one, I dropped sweet potatoes in the bag, not noticing that they were falling through like a basketball in a hoop, smacking the floor along with my dignity, and rolling through the aisle until a little girl screamed at me like a miniature Kate Gosselin for getting my potatoes in her way.
And where was PL when I needed her then? Maybe our friendship wasn't as strong as I thought it was.