I spend the better part of my life as a stay-at-home mom in stores. I am the buyer and bringer of things: food, clothing, personal care, activity-accessories, etc. Basically, buying shit is my “job.” A bad day at work is when I have to go to five different stores (boo!) A great day is when I get out of Target with everything on my list for under $200 (woot woot!).
I’m good at my job, and I’m nice. I return carts to where they belong. I try not to be assholish about where I park my cart in the aisle. I am very polite to cashiers and anyone working the floor. And I have become a keen observer of humanity through the hundreds of hours that I have spent roaming the aisles and standing in line. I’ve met some interesting people along the way. Perhaps you’ve met them too?
10 People You’ll Meet at the Store
1. The Mom with too many kids: How does someone push a doublewide stroller and a cart at the same time? This incredibly frazzled woman has figured it out. She may or may not be pregnant and pushing one or two children under the age of four (or utilizing the other side of the stroller to hold her wares). You can also tell that she has a few older ones to “help” her, because she is yelling to them across two aisles as a method of recall. Of course she is. The 3-year-old has to pee …
2. Guy who is shopping for his wife: If you see a dude pacing the aisles, perhaps consulting a list, muttering to himself, and then pulling out his phone and starting a defensive-sounding argument, then he is answering to a higher power. This guy will refuse to give it his best guess, lest he pick “the wrong thing,” and don’t even try to suggest that he find someone to help him. Ask for directions? Psssh!
3. Mom who needs an “activity” for her toddler: Those of you who work full-time have probably not encountered this shopper before, unless you ventured out during a personal day. But if you’re like me and you do the bulk of your shopping Monday through Friday from 9-5, then you will likely encounter this cheerful parent speaking in constant sing-song to her toddler in the cart. “Ooooh! Red. Do you see the red circle? What? Da? Yes! That is a Da! Doggie. Do-ggie.” Cut her some slack. She hasn’t had an adult conversation in days. But don’t get stuck behind her. She’s in no hurry to return to her house.
4. Person who has never been to this store before: Send out the Sherpa: this person sticks out like a drunk in a library. They have a glazed look of desperate confusion on their face. Don’t look them in the eye – they want you to notice them. They are seeking someone, anyone who looks like they work there to ask where on their list is. If you even remotely resemble someone who knows, they will glom onto you like boogers on a toddler.
5. The Social Butterfly: Heeeeyyyy! Did you come to join the party? Well, it matters not, because this shopper brings the party with them wherever they go. They are out and about, and do.they.love meeting people! Don’t you? It doesn’t matter if you do or not: the social butterfly is going to talk at you even if you ignore them. It could be over a product you are both looking at or while you are stuck waiting to check out. This goes beyond being friendly to a stranger. The SB is a chronic over-sharer, and they don’t give a rat’s ass what you have to say in return. So, get out your best “Umm hmmm,” and plan a hasty escape.
6. Mom who left her kids at home and this is her alone time: Have you ever seen a woman of child-bearing years smiling in a store? She’s holding a latte and might be on her phone having an uninterrupted conversation with a friend. She is walking along, in no particular hurry, but not being douchey about it. She’s just … happy. Yeah, this shopping trip is like one step below a weekend in a hotel right now. The baby is someone else’s problem, and she can’t hear her toddler say “no” one more freakin’ time. She might be so bold as to go get a manicure next …
7. The Dasher: This person is in a super-big hurry, and now everyone knows it! They are seriously just running in here for one item, JUST ONE, and they have no cart or even a basket. They are hopping back and forth, holding that item, trying to figure out which line is the shortest, and no matter which one they pick, it will end up being the s l o w e s t line ohmygawd!!!! They will harrumph, and snort and sigh and act like everyone in the store is personally responsible for making them late for whatever it is that they are now terribly late for. They punctuate their lack of time by plunking said item down in front of the cashier, just in case that person didn’t already know that they are in a rush. Manners? Nope. No time for them. The Dasher grabs the bag with their one item and swooshes out.
8. Food Allergy Mom: This poor lady has to allot an extra hour to each of her food shopping trips just to accommodate the intensive label reading that comes with a new food allergy diagnosis. Were you to follow her around the processed food aisles, you would see her picking each item up, wordlessly mouthing things like “xanthan gum” and “soy lecithin,” perhaps taking out her smart phone and Googling things she hasn’t heard of before. If Food Allergy Mom has her children with her, then you can add extra tension and excitement to her trip as she tearfully bribes and tries to entertain them, all while slogging through paragraphs of stuff she used to be able to buy without a thought. While you are out shopping, you might also meet the close relatives to Food Allergy Mom, “New Paleo Parent” and “Recent Health Nut.” They look very similar sometimes.
9. The Narrator: “Okaaaaay … aisle three. Coffee … coffee … do I need coffee? Hmm … ooh! Peet’s coffee is on sale. Better stock up on that. Wait … do I need filters? I think I just bought some last month … ugh, my memory sucks … I need to start taking Vitamin D again, isn’t that supposed to be good for memory? I better head on over to the pharmacy aisle after I finish up here in grocery…” I need not explain the narrator to you – they’ve beaten me to it.
10. The Coupon Clipper: This person is a level 10, bona fide professional shopper, and they have the app, the weekly flier, and the postcard coupons to prove it. You can learn a lot from them: they do their research, and they know how to save a ton of money. I have had people give me coupons that they couldn’t use, or advice that saved me a bundle. But if you’re in any sort of a hurry, don’t get behind the Coupon Clipper in the checkout line, it’s gonna be awhile. (Hey, being this good at something takes time!)
I have to admit, I’ve been about half of these types of shoppers in my lifetime (#GuiltyAsCharged). I’ll bet you can identify with at least one of them, but I’m sure I’ve left some out. I’ll figure out who they are as I’m clutching my latte, hiding from the social butterfly …
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