I had to return the roll-on I bought today because I didn’t notice it was for women. Some blunders happen every now and then in my borrowed life. Good thing I had it changed or else I wouldn’t have an inspiration to write today.
No. This post is not about the deodorant I use nor is it about how many strands of hair tickle my armpits. This is about the mundane and often underrated phenomenon of doing your groceries.
For as long as I can remember, going to the grocery with my aunts was one of my favorite things to do. Why? Because it meant that it was ICE-CREAM TIME!
In the city where I grew up prior tothe dawn of the new millennium, there were three grocery stores that always made me giddy. They were in varying levels, differing from each other and offering quite similar stuff but had an ambiance distinct from each other.
Tacloban is a small city near never never land, where the Waraynons live. I pretty much grew up in the supermarket environment. We had a vegetable store in the supermarket and a humble canteen that could serve like 10 people at a time. It was a simple life yet it was the colourful life of my aunts and my grandmothers.
So going to the nearest grocery store was somewhat important for several errands like buying detergent soap, or nuts, or gasket for the broken faucet, ad nauseum. But for me as a kid, it was just 3 things: crossing the streets, carrying the grocery back, and making sure that the ice cream would not stain my shirt. Oftentimes, it was after school that we went to the grocery store quickly after scouring the rice grains for pebbles and tipasi (don’t ask me what it is, wait for someone to put a photo online and google it.)
So the scenario is this, you go with your adult companion and keep your ears alert for the Ward-let’s-go then that’s it. You get to the queue and wait for the cashier to manually key in all the items. There were no barcodes or credit card readers or RFI readers back then, so I really admire those cashiers who somehow (I suppose) nearly memorized the prices of thousands of items in the grocery store.
Highway Supermart was where I met these cashiers and was where outside of it, through a glass window, the ice cream lady could be seen handing out scoops of ice cream in a cone (makes me salivate right now when I imagine it dripping). Once you had your cone, you had to lick it – it was the law of the universe or else it’d be like goo that rund down your arm then to your shirt. Yuck.
So these episodes really are golden memories of my childhood and with these, I realized how much detail you can infer from people with the things they brought to the cashier. My quirky mind would start mumbling the myriad of assumptions and hypotheses as to who the buyer is and what he or she is doing in life.
For example, if a woman came in and bought a box of Doy-pack juices and sliced bread with mayo and cheese, she must have bought these to prepare packed sandwiches for her children or to further narrow down the analysis, she must be a housewife who doesn’t encourage her kids to buy food from the cafeteria, so as to save money. Thus, making the sandwiches herself.
Fast forward to the picture of me in the queue for the roll-on replacement, I got to see several characters in the line:
- A young couple had several bottles of beer, some chips, some fruits and coffee = must be a drinking party with an after-party coffee break.
- A woman who was at the back of the line and was looking at the cashiers with a stretched-like-giraffe neck and had wet wipes and a toothbrush in her hands = she must’ve heard nature’s call and ate too much meat so she had some morsels in her molars. What a bad combination!
- A fair-skinned guy with dyed hair staring at me while holding a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a pack of cotton buds, a jar of hair gel, shampoo and facial cleanser = he must be a hygiene freak and I don’t wanna say what else I have in mind (grin).
- A woman with a bottle of wine and Coke = she must have had a tiring day at work and wanted to have some relaxing “wine time”. And oh, a bit of sugar to keep her awake as she watch a movie and put on her glasses after a whole day of bearing with her blue contacts.
- A guy with toilet deodorants = somebody must’ve dropped the bomb and clogged the throne!
- A sexy lady who pushes her cart with her butt-out in skin-tight jeans with a bunch of vegetables and fruits, juices, nuts, and some cuts of chicken = she is a vegan or pretends to be one and she worked and paid hard for her figure. She loves her jeans AND the attention though she didn’t want to flaunt it but she did, anyway, and it is mighty fine with me (grin).
- Two students who bought a mop and some cleaning materials = a dorm party happened, and these guys were the guardians of the pack, who weren’t even drunk but now has to wipe everyone else’s vomit.
- An old lady who pays for her assorted items with coins instead of bills = she could be the wife of a jeepney driver who values every centavo. You could see that by the way she counts each coin and recounts everything again and looks at the cashier straight in the eye.
- A fat guy who had a basket of chips and Coca-Cola and looking at lady #6 = he must be regretting some choices he made in his life, but it doesn’t matter now!!!
- And I, staring at everyone while holding the deodorant = persons 1 to 9 must think I have rotting onions in my armpits.
Oh well, when it was my turn with the cashier, I looked back at all these people and I wished I could give them an ice cream each. I realized that most of the things we hold externally are reflections of what’s inside us.
Our “groceries” reflect our realities, our individual universe or our cravings, needs, wants, and even frustrations. As I ponder of my assumptions about the ten people, I wonder how their groceries will serve them. All I know for sure is that you never leave your groceries behind because it creates a void inside you. I’m being metaphorical but you can interpret that in any way you want.
I imagine also, that after reading this, you would want to pocket your phone, put on mute your music and start looking at the stuff people have bought the next time you queue-in for the cashier.
Sorry, it is contagious.