In Line

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.

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2 thoughts on “In Line

  1. Kinuk says:

    Wow…that really made me very sad. How short-sighted of the mother to deny her daughter this one little book.

  2. Papa says:

    What the mother did was a violation of the “Law of Expectations.” When your conduct reflects that you have a negative expectation then you garner a negative outcome. If your conduct reflects that you have a positive outcome expectation then you garner a positive outcome. The mother should have seized upon the opportunity to change the girls previous conduct, bought the book, and expressed how proud she was of her daughter was desiring to read and expand her mind. Wow! How many opportunities pass us by we’ll never know.

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