Woke up this morning at 8:00 and tried desperately to go back to sleep. The dog wasn't having any part of it having divined during the night that it had snowed and there were fresh tracks to make. I let her out and was standing patiently in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to whistle so I could make a cup of decaf instant. While I was standing there, I recalled being at the grocery yesterday in the midst of the "pre-storm rush" - the phenomonon brought on by local weather people announcing anticipated snowfall and everyone and their brother racing to the store to buy up all the essentials (bread, milk, eggs, etc...) - and really being struck by the variety and beauty of the human being.
As I walked down the chip aisle (I wasn't there for the pre-storm rush), a very dapper man of about 4 feet, 5 inches was loading his cart with Mountain Dew and pretzels. His hair was whitish-gray and carefully styled. He wore a camel colored walking coat - long. I am pretty sure if he had spoken, he would have had a British accent. The Dew was pretty high up on the shelf and I was going to offer him a boost, but he had already figured it out. He braced the cart next to shelf, climbed up the back of the cart and collected his carbonated beverages. Very graceful. I remember wondering if he was going to need dip for the pretzels because the store stocks that pretty high up too.
In the canned foods aisle was a group of teenagers - about three of them and probably siblings. They were cute - dressed in goofy stuff that is stylish right now - baggy pants, bright red shoes, too tight shirts. The impression I got was that their mother had sent them to do the shopping. They had a list, but the conversation revolved around convincing whomever had sent them that much of what was on the list wasn't in stock and coming up with ways to explain the overload of Hostess Snack Cakes in the grocery bags ... "They are on sale 5 for $5 and they do have dairy in them, I think". I was going to nod encouragingly but they had moved to more promising areas of the store.
Making my way up to the check out lane, I was cut off by a woman with wild hair - it was every possible color or seemed to be, and stuck out it all directions. She was dressed in shredded jeans and a black leather jacket fringed with faux fur around the collar. She seemed so confident I could hardly be upset at her almost taking off the toes of both my feet with her cart. I felt like I should apologize for getting in her way... and I think I did. She turned the cart into one of the check out aisles on two wheels and stopped it abruptly about a millimeter from the person in front of her in line, plucked one of the rag mags off the rack and started flipping through it like she was at the doctor's office. Wow.
While I waited in line to pay for my things, I noticed the people at the register -about two people ahead of me. The clerk was being very pleasant and helpful with them - it was an older woman, maybe 60-ish and a man who could have been her husband or son, it was hard to tell. They were both grizzled looking. She had a scarf around her head and her complexion was grey. She was heavy set and had used one of those motorized carts to get around the store. She paid the clerk and sat back down on the laden motorized cart. The man was gaunt with heavy whiskers on his face - long greasy grey curls of hair hanging out from under the edges of the fur lined hat on his head. He was wearing a parka that looked like several other people could have fit in with him and he just kept shrugging his shoulders at something the woman kept saying to him. They stopped at the lottery machine on their way out of the store and bought a ticket. Hope it's a winner.
As the clerk was ringing up my stuff, she asked some questions about my day, the weather and if I'd found everything okay. She's very good at her job, big smile on her face for whomever she was waiting on and polite. She gracefully rang up the items, told me my total, bagged everything all without seeming to have moved at all. When I signed the slip and held up my credit card so she could compare the signatures, she said, "Aw honey, I know who you are." For some reason when I walked out of the store I felt pretty happy - like I belonged.