12 smiles or less
I did that thing, when you meet someone you know in the supermarket.
There are varying degrees. Once I bumped into my GP when I was walking out of the bottle shop. I had enough grog to host a Dry July After Party, couldn’t see over the top and literally bumped into him. He never believed my three standard drinks story again.
I once met a personal trainer (not mine obviously) who couldn’t help scrutinising my basket as we discussed smart choices, whatever they are.
It’s an odd thing, sometimes you pretend to be reading ingredient labels in an effort not to make eye contact. Sometimes you make eye contact without having a clue who the weird smiling person is. Sometimes you smile back before realising there’s someone who does know them just behind you, at which point you need to be suddenly very happy about finding a biscuit on special.
It was none of those. I knew them, they knew me, neither of us too put out to see the other. There’s a moment when you feel the need to justify your very existence by explaining why you’re shopping. ‘I’m just grabbing a few things for dinner’ type chat. Invariably though, you wander off down the aisle, perhaps not richer but certainly no worse off for having had the experience.
I’m unsure as to the science behind it, but if you’re going to meet someone you know in the supermarket, it’s going to be in fruit and veg or the bakery, at a pinch, if the planets are not entirely aligned aisle one. You never meet someone you know in frozen or in the bagging area. There’s unexpected items, but no unexpected people.
The problem of course with meeting someone early on in the shopping excursion is that you’re likely to see them as you’re wandering through. You have to get through the whole ‘Are you following me?’ hysteria in aisle two, only to be having the awkward smile and nod at your shared indifference to one another in aisle four, followed of course by the look at the cotton buds as they approach in the medicine aisle.
It’s not above me to change course and go back through the bits I’ve already done only to be met by my acquaintance sprinting back to the bulk food bins because they forgot to weigh their pine nuts.