A few weeks ago I was grocery shopping. For years I have shopped at the same market, usually purchasing the same foods as last week and the week before that, and well, you know.
The produce department is my first stop. Unfortunately, standing 5′ with socks on, I have trouble reaching the plastic bags and ties so usually I will tear off ten plus ensuring I will have enough. Afterward, I will stand next to my cart and struggle to open the obstinate plastic bags. I open all the bags before I proceed because apparently, you need wet fingers to get a good grip for twisting and pulling on the plastic before it gives in.
The produce department is separated with fruits and vegetables laced with poison on one side and the organic produce and juices on the opposite side. Perhaps, because the grocery store is located in Merced, there are no plastic bags available on the organic side. On this particular trip, I did not tear off enough plastic bags to venture over to the organic side. I reached up high again and tore off two more bags, one was for mushrooms and the other was for mixed organic vegetables.
With one plastic bag in hand and the other hanging from the first, I headed back to the opposite side of the department. I was directly in front of the mushrooms when I attempted to open the top plastic bag. From somewhere a woman around my age and height came forward and stood right beside me yet she remained silent. I felt uncomfortable as she watched me so I spoke up and said, “these bags are really hard to open.” The women took hold of the second plastic bag that was hanging and tore it from the one in my hand.
I stopped my attempt to watch how she quickly opened the plastic bag, as I was about to thank her … she put other items into the bag! Stupefied by her actions I stared in disbelief as she continued to fill my bag with her items. In shock I asked, “Seriously, are you taking my bag?” She spoke not a single utterance. I looked around to see if anyone noticed what just happened. “Okay,” I said, “I get it, It’s Merced.”
She turned and walked away leaving me holding the unopened plastic bag. I started laughing, this was too much to believe even though it happened. I got the plastic bag opened and filled it with mushrooms then pushed the cart back to the opposite side, stretched up to reach another plastic bag and returned to the organic vegetables wondering if she was mentally ill.
Long ago, I developed an aversion to making lists. Not to forget something I need, I go up one aisle and down the next until I reach the end. At about the sixth aisle I saw the woman who stole my plastic bag. Only now she was speaking in English with a man about what brand of cereal he wanted. She saw me but looked right through me. As I slowly passed by shaking my head in disapproval, I deliberately turned to her and said, “Only In Merced.”
I cannot place this incident into a category, but it sure makes me laugh only because I still cannot wrap my head around the mentality of people in Merced that many have this low standard that reasons it is okay to wear your pajamas to Wal-Mart or kick a stranger’s dog because it barked at you or steal a shopper’s bag just because.
There is one thing I am certain of, I really am out of my element.