Unlike many I suppose, I enjoy the 2-3X’s a week trip to the supermarket to get what I need. I’ve been going to the same Pavilions since I moved to Newport Beach in 2009, and doing so helps me pretend that I live in an actual neighborhood – you know like in Brooklyn in the 70’s where I grew up. Then again in some ways it really does feel similar. I know all the cashiers, most of the managers, who is grumpy and how often. It’s even more relevant for me since going to ‘my’ Pavilions was one of the few highly consistent and reliably positive aspects of my life in California when I first headed west. Plus, I always enjoy the small talk and potential flirtations with other humans in the store, especially when I’m ‘on line’ the old-fashioned way.
That’s why I wanted to address what is perhaps the only aspect of grocery shopping that really bothers me – the blockades! You know what I mean – those dirty item separators whose immediate placement on the belt in between your organic, free range, ‘likes walks on the beach’ chicken, and the next person’s raw walnut halves and pieces has become required practice of all consumers! God forbid you don’t append your items with the proper caboose, that being the dirty rectangle of division which lie awaiting its dutiful positioning by you. It’s almost as if people use the blockades just to make sure that any chance of a potential interaction between them and another warm-blooded species member is virtually snuffed out. I mean do we really need another task which, albeit done rather perfunctorily, ensures one more degree of separation among us?
I not only refuse to create such division with my shopping compadres, but I often engage my ‘on line friends’ in a good-spirited questioning of the need for, and potential harm of the current societal ‘blockatiquette.’ I ask them urgently and with overt and playful enthusiasm how we EVER managed to avoid one’s Greek, non-fat, strained yogurt from shamefully sharing molecules with another’s cage-free super-omega blasted eggs! Well I guess back then it was more like one’s milk and another’s cheese, but you get the point. My interrogatives about our blockade behavior are most often met with a laugh and a conciliatory nod of agreement about the selfish and anxiously protective nature exhibited so frequently in our daily lives. Another convenience and efficiency at the cost of human interaction. As you might think, the recipients of my chatter, often forego their participation in blockading, at least during our brief interaction. I think that’s a good thing – even if a temporary one borne out of a twinge of guilt I induced – when we can focus on personal interaction rather than separation.
So OK, be honest! You think I’m reaching here in my implication that these blockades really are symptomatic of what ills our society, etc? I don’t think I’m reaching at all, and I’m sure about another thing – you won’t ever find me reaching for a blockade at Pavilions!