April 15, 2005

city magic

I went to the grocery store last week, exhausted and starving, and found it both incredibly frustrating and kind of nice. Grocery stores freak me out. Too many products, too many choices of ridiculous things (the world does NOT need six hundred kinds of toothbrushes), and where are the damn batteries? Not in the aisle marked "Batteries and Batteries," that's for sure.

The good thing about it was the random human interactions. I needed ziploc bags, which were roughly impossible to find, but this really nice guy who was doing his own shopping, but still wearing his Safeway tag, tracked down a woman who was in no sort of uniform but knew where the ziploc bags were.

At the check-out line, a 4-year-old boy was running around saying, basically continuously, ooh-ooh-ooooh-oooh-oooh. He grabbed a pack of Starbursts, ran up to his mom, and held them up to her: ooooooooooooh. She looked at him and said, "NO." He put them back and ran off. Ooooh-ooooh-ooh-oooooooh-oooooooh.

The cashier took my discount card and was confused about whether it was a Safeway card or not (it's from a local subsidiary, but not local to where I am), and I said something about people in California thinking I was crazy when I handed it to them. She got really really excited and started telling me how she was going to fashion college in LA in the fall.

This is the stuff that makes it worth it for me to live in a city. All these little interactions with people you don't know. So here are a couple more.

The other day I was at a little produce market in the suburbs and there was a girl - probably about six - behind the counter with her sister or aunt or mom or cousin or something. Making faces at babies is like, the best thing ever and they hide and then laugh, so I forgot that she wasn't a baby and made faces at her. But she was old enough that she made a fish face back at me, and I blew out my cheeks like a pufferfish and she laughed.

Today there was a tiny, toy-looking white dog - probably a bichon frise - at a city park. It barked at another dog and then walked past me and the Hipster Monk sitting on a bench eating ice cream, and I barked at it. It got sort of confused and excited and came over to sniff me and be petted, and stayed interested for a while, til its owner - this woman who looked sad generally and confused because I had barked at her dog, but eventually smiled about it - decided it was time to leave. Off they went. The old couple on the bench - old enough to have started looking frail, and to dress in a way that was noticeably old-fashioned - across from us laughed and started talking to each other and then to me. "Did you see that?" said the old man. "That was funny." "Yes it was." To me: "Do you have a dog?"

I told them I didn't have a dog, but that I grew up with them and love them. They nodded and talked a little more, and then walked off arm in arm, slowly.

1 comment:

political schmience said...

those are *all* fantastic stories. why is making eyes at babies the best damn thing ever?

also, the other day i was at the grocery store and i overheard a stock person tell another stock person that the yanks had just lost and i said, mostly involuntarily, all RIGHT!, and they looked at me and said, more of you college people should care about that! i said, well, it's important. we smiled at each other. it was great.