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26 May 2003
I was thinking of my father this afternoon. He was not a man who
took time to smell the roses. It's not that he was busy about many things. I can't really
remember him doing a lot, but people who moved slowly made him angry (heck, everything
made him angry).
When it really became an issue is when we were out driving around in
the car. We seem to have done a lot of driving around "looking at houses." I was
an adult before he finally agreed to buy one, but we often went looking. Literally
"window shopping"! When we'd get on the road to somewhere, if he found himself
behind a slow driver, he would get angry about "Sunday drivers," as if people
who wanted to "meander" down life's highway instead of taking it at a fast clip
were somehow bad, undesirable people. For him it was all about the destination; he
couldn't take the time to enjoy the journey.
Funny that popped into my head today, as I stopped by the local
supermarket to pick up a few things (now that I'm doing this fotolog for food, I have to keep the variety
in my meals!)
Sunday shoppers are quite different from your daily shoppers. If you
go to a supermarket during the week you find people on a mission. They march purposefully
up and down the aisles, grabbing the necessary items as they go. There is little stopping
to check prices or ingredients or to decide between Special K or Cheerios. These are
people who are seasoned veterans of the grocery aisle. They know what they want, they know
where to find it, and they know how to do it quickly, to be home before the kids get in,
or before the 6 o'clock news comes on.
Sunday shoppers, like Sunday drivers, like to meander. They may be
trying out a new supermarket, or visiting Grandma, or taking the kids out for a quick
snack. They don't seem to have a routine. Maybe they have a list. They wander around
peering at the signs on the aisles looking for the toilet paper, and then maybe the dog
food and then maybe the frozen food. They criss cross back and forth through the store.
If it's a big supermarket with lots of unusual foods and/or labels
(as mine is), their eyes may glaze over as they look at their options. So many choices in
mustard alone. Don't even get me started on barbeque sauces or marinades.
As they get lost in the abundance, they forget that they have a
shopping cart with them, and the cart ends up blocking the aisle. "Excuse me,"
you say politely, trying to squeeze between them and their cart so you can make your pasta
choice. "EXCUSE ME," you say a little louder, when they don't hear you the first
time. They look bewildered for a minute, then move the cart an inch or two. You stand
there and sigh and wait.
You see kids on Sundays. They are usually in school when the shopper
of the house does the weekly grocery shopping, so Sunday shopping is a treat. They saunter
along, checking out all the interesting looking things, paying no attention to the other
carts in the store. Mom or Dad may stop, leave the cart in the aisle, and go off in search
of little Johnny, who has disappeared again. Or there may be a debate in the middle of an
aisle about the nutritional differences between plain Cheerios and Count Chocula.
College students still new to this "housekeeping" stuff
shop together, filling their carts with beer and potato chips and try to decide if they
can afford to buy a piece of meat or if they should have spaghetti again.
The flow of traffic always seems chaotic on Sundays. None of the
militaristic straight lines, but lots of artistic curves. Lines at the check-out counter
stretch back into the frozen food section.
On this lovely pre-summer day, there were people out in front of the
store giving away samples of paper towels and toilet paper and everyone on the plaza had a
roll under his or her arm. A small child was hitting a golf ball with a club at a huge
inflatable paper towel roll. People sat at tables chatting, or reading books.
There was the same relaxed air about it that extended to the activities inside the
Sunday shoppers may make one's shopping trip a bit longer than
usual, but sometimes it's nice to take time to smell the roses...and the coffee
beans...and the fresh fruit...and the chibata bread fresh from the oven.