I’m not a fan of ingredients, but I’m a big fan of the soup. People, roaming randomly, bring me nothing; people, gathered, and talking, is everything.
It was 7PM, July 3rd 2021 at the Harris Teeter on Palm Boulevard. You were standing in a long checkout line, your full cart indicative of taking care of a large family. You were stationary, smiling, with kind eyes. We shared hellos.
You were a brown-haired fortyish lady from Atlanta, Georgia. You had a timeshare at Myrtle Beach that you lamented you missed out on. Where was I from, you wanted to know?
You were visiting Isle of Palms with a dozen family and friends. As we chatted, your teen daughter politely asked you, friend in tow, “Mom, can I get an Everything bagel?” She also asked if she could get a few other things. You said yes to all her requests. I was impressed how she asked your permission. It was respectful.
Our supermarket line wasn’t moving–this was the pre-July 4th crush. You and I rolled our eyes at what was in front of us, lots of people, waiting to buy their private stocks of food and drinks, and sandals, and Everything bagels.
Your dark-haired friend joined our conversation. She was happy to be away from the stress of her own two kids, she said. It was a wholesome expression. I could tell she cared, and that she was glad to be far from her everyday hassles and routines. A few words and a certain look told me so much.
From the look of your group, your men were either not a part of this vacation, or were sitting this shop out.
The line crept forward and I said to you, “Oh, ask the cashier if she can scan the visitor VIP card for you– you can save a lot of money.” You thanked me, again showing your kind eyes. Southern friendliness sweetens even a simple thank you.
And then you were gone. Registers opened up and a store manager directed you one way and me, another. I began unloading my cart and focused on my here and now.
I should have taken an earlier moment and asked your name. How forward would it have been for me to do that? How bold would it have been to want to exchange numbers? Unthinkable! Right? Oh, why not? You knew I was married. This was about making a friend.
That didn’t happen– of course it didn’t. Food shopping on summer vacation isn’t about being bold, it’s about grabbing what you need and getting the heck out of there. Getting to your car, and back to the beach or cottage.
Oh but what I needed was in my cart, and in that line.
I should have connected with you, because we connected. I should have asked, because it was the South and you were from Georgia and what would you have said? Even a decline would have been the nicest thing, I suppose.
Instead, we turned back into ingredients again. Separate, and somewhat lesser for it.
I caught a last glimpse of you. Your checkout line was several over from me but I caught your eye, as you managed your kids and all the bags of stuff. I waved and said goodbye. Nice meeting you!, I mouthed. You smiled, and said the same.