So girl child and I went to Trader Joe’s today. I had to pick up a few things and my grandmother had sent a little money. We have those weeks where we don’t know how we’re paying for groceries. And then miraculously someone will slides us a hundred bucks or a fifty or bring groceries (don’t get me wrong, other weeks we’re fine. We’re pretty much day by day around here). The day by day thing is pretty much beside the point, as usual, I digress.
So we had fun finding the stuff we needed. Even though I had specific things in mind you must admit, if you’ve ever been there, the fun and slightly weird feel of TJs makes even a run for essentials sort of amusing. We found soy yogurt for the man (he can’t handle dairy right now), ginger chews for my mom (she’s an addict and since I was there…), frozen blueberries for my smoothies and almond milk and…well, you get the picture. Then it was time to check out. We’d managed to stay below the money we had so I was very pleased.
I felt very happy.
And, since I basically am on duty 24/7/365 right now and have been for the last year, I did something insane at checkout. I did not bag. I decided to let the checkout lady check me out. To actually take care of my groceries. And I was chatting with my daughter.
Then here she comes. The rainbow amoeba. A tall blond woman who got in line behind me. She suddenly pops up at the end of the line and says to the lady waiting on us. “Here. Want me to help you bag?” Even as she begins pawing our groceries and shoving them in TJ bags.
Well, there’s no doubt my kid is my kid because when this woman—an utter stranger to us—began handling our food we both went ramrod straight and utterly silent. Our silly, happy, goofy chatter ceased in a heartbeat and you could have heard a pin drop.
The checkout woman sort of startled and then “Um…sure. If you don’t mind…”
Now, my initial inclinations because I am that person—that person who wants everyone to like me, who wants to help everyone—almost said, “Oh, no, that’s okay. I’ll do it.”
But I stopped myself. Because I realized, if I’d wanted to bag my groceries (tbh I usually do) I would have been bagging my groceries. And I refused to be prompted by this buttinsky with a rainbow over her head and a bluebird on her shoulder.
Now you might be saying, “Why would this piss you off?”
Good question! Why?
I just watched an episode of the new show MOM (I just discovered it and I love it) where the mom does everything for her daughter one day, trying to give her a down day, and they shoot to the Christy the daughter, sitting there in a tidy house, kids taken care of, laundry started, left alone, drinking a latte from Starbucks and she says, “Why is this pissing me off so much?” It was just on the other night and ironically, I said to the man, “I’d be pissed too! And I’m not sure why.”
But I know why I was pissed today. This did not feel like an act of kindness. It felt like a jab disguised as an act of kindness. An almost silent “If she won’t” at the end of the sentence. Like this:
“Here. Want me to help you bag? (((if she won’t)))”
And god damn it, I refused to fall for it. I refused to be baited. I deserve to go to a grocery store and stand there if I want to. I usually help, and I refused to be guilted for not doing it for once. For letting the checkout lady do her job. On a very small order, I might add.
Anyway, my daughter and I just stood there watching. We were like very calm predators. No muscles moved, no sounds were made. She said all she was thinking was “Why is this stranger touching our food?” And let’s face it, she’s right. Who the fuck was Mary Sunshine to come up and presume to start pawing my food? She didn’t work there.
Anyway, this is why sometimes even Buddha can’t save me. This did not make me feel warm or fuzzy or helped. It pissed me off and put me on the defensive and Susie Goodshoes is lucky she didn’t get a good jab the neck after the year I’ve had.
Instead, I thanked the clerk (I have a feeling she felt as awkward as we did) and turned to the woman and said, in my best snarky voice, “Welp! Thanks for that?” and then calmly wheeled my shit out of the store.