Confessions of a Grocery Store Voyeur


So here is my confession:  I AM A GROCERY STORE VOYEUR!

Beware that if you are with me in the checkout, I am admiring your purchases and passing judgments.  If you are buying the ten pound bag of tater tots and eight loaves of bread; then I will assume that you have at least eight children,  a twelve passenger van, and a trampoline . . . or that you run a summer camp.    If your entire purchase consists of a box of wine, frozen lasagna, and Ho Hos; then I will assume that you are either single or about to be single.  And if the contents of your hand-basket cover the conveyor belt with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a liter of Diet Coke, and a Fitness magazine; then I will assume that you and I could be very good friends.

Today was an exceptionally voyeuristic day as I found myself making multiple trips to the SuperMarket.  

At 5:00 am I ventured to Winco, a store I will only patronize at odd hours because of the pure insanity of  the shopping experience that it offers all other hours of the day.  I encountered only one fellow shopper: an older woman dressed in sweats, and with a serious game face on.   She raced up and down the aisles, bagging apples, squeezing loves of bread, and poking rib roasts.  Before I knew it, I found myself stalking her.  Pacing just behind her, I marvelled at the intensity with which she piled her cart high.  What could possibly be driving her ravenous shopping at 5:00 am with no other shoppers in sight?  I imagined a ogerous husband waiting with fork in hand for his breakfast . . . or perhaps a band of house guests who will expect pancakes by six . . . maybe she knew something I didn’t:  a storm on the way, terrorist threats, a tsunami . . . or maybe she noticed someone was stalking her . . .

At noon I resumed my shopping at the Grocery Outlet, a store that offers the excitement of a treasure hunt.   Here, I was  fascinated by what was in carts along with what was NOT.  In no other market can I find fifty dollar bottles of wine (marked down to $4.99) stacked next to 12 pound  cans of Spam and Organic Hemp Milk.  Today,  grocery Outlet was apparently the proud recipients of an overturned Nutella truck.  Around every corner, stacked at the end of each aisle, and piled above the freezers were giant jars of Nutella marked down to 99 cents.  As I navigated the store, I repeatedly crossed paths with a middle aged gentleman who every time smiled and asked “did you get your Nutella yet?”  I started to wonder if the store had hired him to wander the aisles and encourage sales of the hazelnut spread.  I became even more suspicious when he used one encounter to promote Nutella’s “almost healthiness.”  In the baked goods aisle, our carts knocked into one another, and he cracked a joke about it’s spreadability motioning towards the bread.  At that point I decided that I must remind him of the mom on the Nutella Commercial . . . he very possibly thought I was famous . . .

At 5:00 pm, I rounded out my shopping expeditions with a trip to Fred Meyer — the all- purpose Grocery/Toy/Art/Electronics store . . . with built in Starbucks.  Americano in hand, I found myself in the Frozen Foods section looking for the Touch of Honey Hagan Daaz.  A young man, who was apparently blinded by the neon lighting and missed how completely old I am, tried to strike up a conversation on the difficulties of choosing an ice cream flavor.  He cracked jokes about praline, and tried to make names like “nuts over chocolate” and “marzipan dreams” sound flirtatious.  You can only imagine his embarrassment when his dad came to find him . . . and yes, young man, I did see the zit cream you tried to hide under the microwave pizza.  My judgment on him: go see the ophthalmologist on Monday.

As much as I judge what other people put into their bodies, Jesus says that what goes in is not the problem.   He tells the Pharisees that what  goes into a man defines only the state of their external being while what comes out of their mouth defines the very state of their heart.  For me, it means that I should look less and listen more.  Listen, first, to my own heart; to hear it’s judgments and consider it’s state.  And secondly, to listen to others; to admire their zeal,  appreciate their humor, and accept their compliment.   

This is the time of year where the bulk of our population obsesses with the state of their body.  They resolve to eat less ice cream and nutella, and race down the aisles more  (for exercise sake).  It is an obsession that will carry through most of the year, an obsession that will most likely never be satisfied.  

The heart, too, is hard to satisfy.  It will settle for no less than the love of God.  That seems like a much better obsession to me.  So I hope, that someday, I will make the confession that I am a voyeur of the True and Living God.

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