People Passing By

I love watching people.  And one of the best places to do it is in the seating area by the snack bar at Costco.  A steady stream of consumers roll their carts by me on the way to the exit.  Yesterday I plunked myself down with representatives from three of Canada’s major food groups – hot dog, Diet Coke, and later, a chocolate waffle cone.

I watched my judgments come up as they walked by, and was happy to see the negativity quickly fade.  There really was no one better and no one worse.  The whole topic was irrelevant.  The shoppers were all human beings, each with their hidden story, each worthy of my love.  Here’s a sampling:

1.  A woman in her thirties with a bad patch of acne on her left cheek.  Two little girls, both yammering away, sat in the cart, sticking their legs out at mom.  (I though of my horrible acne in Grade 9, and looks of disgust from a few.)

2.  A young guy with closely cropped hair, shades perched on top of his head, a bouquet of lilies in his left hand, a bag of fertilizer slung over his right shoulder, no cart.  (I never had a girl to bring flowers to when I was his age.)

3.  A former Costco cashier came over to talk.  In his 60s.  Retired in June because he couldn’t stand for his 7.5 hour shifts anymore.  Loves coming back to chat with members and fellow employees.  Thanked me for giving him a hard time at the checkout.  (Gosh, I’m retired too.  Does this mean that we’re both getting O-L-D?)

4.  Three women walking with their almost empty cart, probably in their 70s, small smiles to each other, polyester wardrobes, happy.  (I never go out with the guys.  Doesn’t feel like I have any guys to go out with.)

5.  An elderly gentleman, thinning grey hair slicked back with some goo, more polyester, leaning heavily on his cart as he moves it forward slowly.  (Reminds me of my dad in his last years – the family grocery shopper, determined to be independent, had lost a step or two.)

6.  Middle-aged guy, baseball cap, short grey beard, t-shirt and shorts, driving his cart way too fast.  Has to slam on the brakes as the line slows near the exit.  (I remember the tension I felt as an itinerant teacher of the visually impaired.  Sometimes I raced down the hallway to the next kid.  Too much to do.)

7.  A 20-something hulk of a fellow, really motoring, sunglasses riding high, muscle shirt showing off arms as big as my legs, oriental tattoos on his upper arms and calves.  (I remember being scared of big guys like that.  When I was 15.  Or was it just last year?  Okay, both.)

8.  Two women, perhaps from India, strolling out of the store, garbed in black saris, with colorful scarves covering their heads.  Would you believe another pair of sunglasses adorning another head?  (What would my life be like now if I had been born a Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist in an Asian country?)

9.  A very tall teenager, hair up in a bun (sort of), wearing a black sleeveless top, with a black and golden sparkled purse on her shoulder, arms that didn’t seem to have any biceps, looking calm.  (I love seeing muscle definition in the upper arm, but this woman’s arm was just a straight line.  I wondered what her life was like, and why she felt the need to be so thin.)

10.  A hugely overweight woman in her 30s, bum jiggling in green pants as she pushes her cart, hair shaved close at the back of her neck, and poofing out on top, almost like a nest.  (What must it be like to be so fat?  Wouldn’t every little task cause troubled breathing?  Thank God I don’t have to cope with all this.)


All of us
No one left out
The same brightness behind the eyes

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