I fancy I can tell a lot about someone from their shopping cart’s contents. Lots of frozen foods or processed packaged foods means little time for and/or interest in cooking. Lots of power tools means new homeowner or generous present. A collection of books on the MLA format means a son or daughter working on a research paper.
Generalizations, certainly, but they’re probably accurate at least occasionally. I look in our cart and I can tell quite a bit. Of course, I have the Cliff Notes to my own life, so there’s not much guess work there.
More revealing, though, can be the conversations in the line. One of the reasons I prefer to Polish in public is the privacy it provides. I certainly wouldn’t want those around me to hear an exchange between L and me like the one I overheard yesterday.
A mother and her two children were piling up frozen foods at the checkout when the oldest daughter — probably around fourteen or fifteen — pulled a copy of Twilight from under a bag of frozen fries and asked, “Do I have to put it back?”
Mother’s response was stunning: “You won’t read it! I’ve never seen you sit and read anything.”
The girl turned the book over in her hands a couple of times, and with a sigh, trudged off to replace the book on the shelf.
The temptations: “Has she ever seen you sit and read anything?” “Wonderful job of encouraging your daughter to read.” The greatest, though, was the most dangerous: as the girl passes me, “Here — I’ll buy it for you.”
Instead, I whispered to L, in Polish for added security, “I’ll buy you all the books you want.”
Shopping cart photo by Dan4th.