Pushing my cart through the produce section of Kroger yesterday, maybe I should have been prepared for a romantic proposition. But I was preoccupied, merely looking for a bag of salad mix, not a date. The woman came up from behind me and I was slightly startled when, from just over my right shoulder, she said, “I’d better go home with you; I need some of that.” She caught up with me just as she finished her sentence so I was able to see her indicate exactly what she needed. She was nodding her head toward toward my lower torso – no, no, it was toward the two bottles of Kroger brand “Fiber Laxative Caplets” I had in the child seat section of the cart.
The woman was a Kroger employee, about my age, looking a little worse for wear and not very concerned about her appearance for someone spouting pickup lines by the packaged fresh herbs. She was hunched over her own cart filled with random items she was restocking to the shelves. I didn’t know quite how to respond to her seductive offer to split some fiber caps at my pad. I was buying them for my wife (I don’t use them…I have Metamucil powder) and they were on sale. So, to explain that I had good reason for mass laxative quantities, I said, “They’re buy one get one free.”
“Well, you buy the first one and I’ll take the free one,” she said with a cackle. Oh god, was that a wink she threw at me there?
The incident had me so unsettled that I forgot to get the honey-roasted almonds and the pecans I wanted from the produce shelves. I hurried on to the next aisle and there she was, rounding the corner and coming the other way, stocking boxed dinners. I saw her smiling up at me as I accelerated past her.
Later I remembered my almonds and pecans, but only one at a time, so I had to return to produce twice. My stocker was there both times, still trolling for love among the vegetables. The second time I returned she said, with a knowing smile, “ I see you’re only shopping for things in the first two aisles.” She straightened up slightly as if to say, "See anything you like?" I grabbed my nuts and went to check out without looking back.
This odd incident reminded me of one that occurred at a different grocery store some 20 years ago. A much younger woman, actually a girl, probably 16, who also was a store employee, kept appearing in various spots around the store. Each time I saw her, she was looking intently at me and smiling in a way that suggested she wanted to speak to me but was too shy, or perhaps intimidated by me good looks. I had no inclination to strike up a flirtation with a teenager, but it was nice to know I still had some appeal at twice her age. Finally, the girl followed me out of the store and as I was putting my sacks in the trunk, she came boldly up to me under pretence of collecting my cart and asked the question she’d been longing to put to me: “Are you Greg Meyer’s dad?”
So maybe today I misunderstood a woman’s intentions again. And maybe I should ask my wife to go with me to the grocery for protection.