Me and the bag lady

I am a creature of habit. Case in point: My grocery shopping. I go to the grocery store every Monday morning after my workout – usually around 10am. I go to the grocery store again every Thursday morning after my swim to stock up on milk, fresh produce and a few things for the weekend.

Since I am at the store at the same time every single week, I have come to know the cashiers and baggers. There is one bag lady in particular that I like so well, I will get in the line where she is working even if it’s not the shortest. This lady feeds my orderly, control-freak self. See, I place my groceries on the conveyor belt in a specific order based on how I’m going to put them away when I get home. In an ideal world, they are then bagged in that specific order and my life runs like a well-oiled machine. I’m going to be honest, it doesn’t work out that well in most cases and I’m stuck with bags of warm & cold things mixed together and all sorts of chaos ensues. But this bag lady – her name is Joyce – gets me. She always bags them in the right combinations. And a year or so ago she mumbled that she noticed how I like to put my things in a certain order and that she likes that.

Joyce and I, we see eye to eye on the order of groceries.

But here’s the thing, Joyce is not a pleasant person. She scowls. She mumbles. She rolls her eyes at some customers and some cashiers. She’s a little on the grouchy side. So, I decided a few months ago to make it my personal mission to get Joyce to warm up to me.

I started by thanking her for something specific each time I walked away with my cart full of expertly bagged groceries. I always thank the baggers but I tried to think of something specific to notice each time. It took a few months but I noticed a slight thawing one day when she noticed that I forgot my cloth bags and asked about them. She seemed to scoff at my forgetfulness but hey – she talked to me so I took it as progress.

Next, I started trying to make comments to her while she was bagging instead of waiting for the end of our encounters. At first I’d get some mumbles from her but about a month ago I started getting actual responses. It was almost like we were having a conversation! Then this week I hit the jackpot (or I finally wore her down). She actually talked to me FIRST!! She made a comment about a Trader Joe’s opening up in our area soon (a rumor I hope is true) and then made a second, unprovoked comment asking why I was buying so many canned goods this week since I usually buy very few (it’s food drive week at church).

TWO COMMENTS!! AND she smiled at me! You have no idea how excited I was when I left the store. It might have taken months of weekly prompting but I have broken through Joyce’s barrier! My next challenge? To get her to laugh about something and maybe even tell her my name so we can call each other by name when I’m there. Joyce and I… we’re going to be best grocery friends, I can just feel it.


10 thoughts on “Me and the bag lady

  1. I just can’t get over the part where you put your groceries in order of the way you’re going to put them away when you get home. I bet Shane does this, too. Me? I just throw everything willy-nilly on the belt and hope for the best.

      1. TOTALLY do this to. I hate when D writes a shopping list. I always have to rewrite it in order. I know some people hate places where you bag your own stuff, but that makes me so happy. I *love* packing my own bags, which is why I use self-checkout wherever possible. It’s hit and miss at Martin’s, but they’re generally good.

        Yep, I’m totally AR with this stuff.

        p.s. love the blog redesign!

  2. I, like Barb, make my lists in store order and organize my stuff on the belt.
    Drives me crazy when they get thrown in the bag all willy nilly. Tortillas with shampoo?? really? This is not ok!

    But, I also think I know who Joyce is. I am pretty sure she is the one who huffed and puffed when I said I would take my own bags to the car….You know, because I wanted to put them in the right order in the car.

    I am glad you guys are best friends! Maybe you can put in a good word for me?

    1. She used to huff & puff at me about that too but now she just knows and is okay with me taking my groceries out. You know… because we’ve bonded over orderly groceries. I am so happy to hear that you too like grocery structure!!

  3. First of all – this is such an example of what a great person you are. Most people (myself included) would be like – Joyce is a huge cow and I’m going to avoid her at all costs. You? Are so much better than that.

    Secondly – I too, write my list in a very specific order. The list needs to be re-written if anybody adds something to the list because changes are it’s in the wrong spot. Items most definitely are placed on the belt in a specific order. At the store I shop at (every Thursday at 11:30 after TRX), you bag your own. I have 3 big bins – one for produce, one for frozen/refrigerated items and one for dry goods, cans, etc.

    1. Lyndsay, I love your grocery strategy. The fact that you rewrite your list if something is added just affirms why we will be forever friends.

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