I was at the grocery store earlier today and I realized, and perhaps it is my limited interaction with other humans, but the grocery store has been a reliable fount of bizarro blog fodder. Something odd or interesting or disturbing happens every time I go to the grocery store.
I believe it is completely separate from my continuing ill-comprehension of the Fred Meyers stores. On my first trip to a Fred’s, I walked in and saw produce and groceries. Understood. But then I saw TVs. And sometimes furniture. And giant BBQ grills. And big game hunting raffle tickets. And, my head exploded a little.
I might add, this story below may sound, um, insensitive. And I don’t mean to sound insensitive. Unenlightened and juvenile, maybe. And certainly dorky. But insensitive, no.
I was in the checkout line unloading my groceries and I noticed that I was behind a young woman I had seen earlier in the store. I remembered her because it seemed like she was cold, and had tucked her arms into her sweater. It’s raining out and grocery stores can be freezing. So I understood being cold.
But as I passed by her, it wasn’t that she had taken her arms out of her sleeves for warmth, she just had no arms. At all. And then I felt like an ignoramus. What had been mild curiosity turned into a polite resolve not to inspect her any further. I mentally slapped my head for the whole “must be cold” thing. Doofus.
The store was rush hour busy, and I ended up in the check out line behind her. She was pretty, petite and exotic looking. I was doing a very good job at not overtly noticing her lack of arms. As the cashier was checking out her groceries, she stepped out of an open-backed moccasin, curled a bare foot into her purse and deftly fished out a debit card. With her foot, she swiped the card through the card reader.
She was petite. And the card reader is at check-writing height. So, what, 4 feet high? She used her toes to punch in her pin number. Her toenails were painted all cute with a french pedicure. And it made sense to me, because her feet are her “hands.” She was so quick and fluid, that if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t realize she was using her feet.
But I noticed, though I was really trying NOT to notice, that when she was plugging in the numbers on the card reader, I detected an unpleasant odor. And in a half second, I thought how natural that is. She was wearing black leather clogs, it’s raining and damp outside. Of course her feet would stink a little. I have big, wide pancake feet and and my toes aren’t painted all cute and I can’t even balance on one foot. And I’m sure my feet fricken stink too.
She finished up her transaction, nimbly used her foot to put the card back in her purse, and the cashier hung the grocery bag on her shoulder. Again, I was next in line and making a point to NOT NOTICE A THING HERE, but I was kind of quietly honored to see what must be the most normal of daily events, and to see it’s just as routine for an extraordinary person. As she walked away, I wondered if she drove to the store and how she manages it. But I was certain she manages quite well.
As she left, I observed that the unpleasant odor I had noticed earlier had not gone away. For a panicked second, I wondered if it was me! But I realized there was a scruffy, maybe homeless, guy behind me in line and that was where the smell was coming from.
Then I felt bad for thinking that it was the armless woman’s feet that were smelly. She was pretty and graceful and having to do cirque du soleil in order to buy groceries. And I had thought that rank smell came from her dainty, talented feet.
I sent a silent, blazing mental message to guy behind me, “Dude, you need to get your shit together.”