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Making Friends on the Supermarket Checkout Line

Looks like you’re having a party,” said the woman on the supermarket checkout line behind me.  I gave her a withering smile.  I could see where this was going.

Looks like you’re having a party,” said the woman on the supermarket checkout line behind me. I gave her a withering smile. I could see where this was going. I didn’t want to be rude, but I was not in the mood for a conversation about my food choices with a total stranger. Did I say anything about the twenty-four cans of cat food she was unloading onto the belt behind my stuff? Nah-ah. But she was clearly intrigued by several bottles of soda, assorted bags of chips, and collection of cookies I was purchasing. I actually find it kind of fascinating that most people wouldn’t comment about the food on your plate at a restaurant, or pass judgement on your choice of snack at a baseball game, but for some reason, feel it is perfectly acceptable to voice an opinion about your food purchases at the supermarket.


Personally, I am not a big fan of grocery commentary. I’m also, coincidentally, not a big fan of grocery shopping, and therefore I am not looking to expand the experience by having a conversation about the food I am buying. Apparently, however, lots of other people are. Because there I was, doing my weekly shop, and the next thing I know, I was a caught in the middle of a grocery inquisition.

“No. This is just some stuff for my kids,” I explained, trying to keep the chitchat to a minimum. Not to be defensive, but I should also mention that the soda and chips were far outnumbered by the variety of fresh fruits, nuts and organic vegetables coming out of my cart, as well.

“Really!” she said with some surprise. “That’s an awful lot of junk for just a few kids.”

I looked at her with a mix of shock and amusement. For all she knew I had a dozen kids at home who were on doctors orders to consume large quantities of salt and soda. I decided the best thing to do was shrug and keep moving forward.

“You know,” she continued. “Childhood obesity is a big problem in this country.

I glared at her.

“It’s not the children’s fault, though,” she said. “It’s the parents.” She glanced at my soda bottles.

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I looked at the checkout girl who wisely avoided my eye contact and kept ringing up my purchases, although I noticed the pained expression on her face as she sensed the volcanic eruption that was about to blow.

I set down my jars of tomato sauce and turned to the woman behind me. “Actually, childhood obesity is not the biggest problem in this country. “I said.


“No. A bigger problem is people behind you on the supermarket checkout line who make inappropriate comments about your food purchases,” I retorted.

I heard a sharp intake of breath as the checkout girl began ringing up my food at a significantly faster pace, and the guy bagging the groceries skipped the whole “paper versus plastic,” question, made the decision himself, and started speed-bagging as fast as humanly possible.

Fortunately, everyone was saved from a major supermarket checkout line altercation by an employee who opened a register at the next checkout line and yelled, “Next in line!” Since the cat lady was the only other person on line, she glowered at me, gathered up her collection of Fancy Feast, and skittered over to the next aisle.

As I finished unloading my cart, another woman appeared on the line behind me.

She smiled sweetly at me. I smiled sweetly at her. She looked at my food.

“Looks like someone’s having a party!”

©2009, Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more Lost in Suburbia, visit Tracy Beckerman at, and check out her hilarious new book “Rebel without a Minivan” at Amazon and


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