When you use the last bit of milk on your cereal as your spouse is still asleep you realize you’ve put off grocery shopping one day too long. Glancing around the kitchen you recognize you’re out of a lot of staples. Plus you have no idea what you’re going to make for dinner. Though if you got really creative you could probably put together a meal out of whatever is left in the back of the pantry.
Maybe best not to go there.
So you gather your gloves and dog hair encrusted coat, shove your bare feet into worn running shoes and head out over icy rutted dirt roads in search of food and inspiration. You haven’t showered and you’re still wearing the shirt you slept in. But you figure you won’t see anyone you know and even if you did what does it matter really?
At the store you peruse the produce and note that wherever you move there is a woman choosing much the same stuff. Checking out the bananas, picking the perfect tomato. Potatoes. You wait patiently, pretending to inspect the pears while she checks out all the bags of potatoes. It’s a potato. Choose one. But she lingers over her decision.
Though you might have the same eating habits, she and you are nothing alike.
Her hair is clean and bouncy and shiny, cut in a perfect bob. You haven’t looked at yours yet this morning but it definitely isn’t clean. She has managed to wriggle her tiny little behind into her skinny jeans. You’re wearing the same sweats you slept in. She’s pushing a huge designer bag in the front seat of her cart. You aren’t.
She’s perky. You appear to have left your perk at home. Under a pile of laundry in the deep reaches of an overwhelmed laundry room.
You begin to feel bad about yourself only when you realize a purple doggie poop bag (thankfully empty) is trailing out of your right pocket. You check your left pocket and are relieved to find that the cough drops are safely pushed down to the bottom, unlikely to make an appearance unless you pull your keys out from among the used tissues.
You and she move to the dried bean aisle. She makes several selections. You head in the other direction and skip an aisle just to avoid her. As you gather the rest of your necessities you only run into her on occasion, she smiling cheerily, sipping her designer coffee, you mumbling under your breath like the bag lady you obviously are.
As you approach the lone open register, grateful to have this task finished, not even looking at your list because you don’t want to know what you forgot in your rush to get out of the store, you almost crash into another frazzled middle-aged shopper with one of those small carts carrying only a few items.
You take a moment and breath, then smile and nod at her to go ahead. She smiles back and life shifts to normal. So we’re not perky and put together. So what. Everybody got their shopping out of the way before most of the world was awake.
And that makes us all winners.