Grocery Store as Metaphor

Today, as I was pushing my cart through the pre-holiday hustle and bustle aisles at Giant Supermarket, it occurred to me that it was a miracle that shoppers were able to safely dodge and weave through the aisles, without crashing into anyone. Although we are "traffic," there are no stop signs, neither are there red, yellow and green lights; nothing that tells us where we need to yield or halt our forward movement. People stop without signaling, back up, without benefit of rearview mirrors or lights on their carts to indicate a change in direction, no turn signals that let others in the store know that they will be turning down another row of cans, boxes, produce or bottles. The carts are not equipped with horns to beep at anyone who is moving slowly. Pedestrians of all ages walk and sometimes run about without getting run over. We make room for other people to get what they need off the shelves.

We say "Excuse me," if we occasionally get in someone else's way. Since I am 'vertically challenged' at 5'4", there are times when I have needed to ask for help getting an item from a high shelf and a taller shopper has been happy to be of assistance.

No one is smoking or flicking cigarettes onto the floor, as if it was their ashtray, or tossing litter about. Drivers steer their carts at a reasonable pace, not speeding about recklessly. No one seems to be in danger of a DUI citation. I've never seen anyone flash the middle finger, or exhibit road rage behaviors.

That amazes me. How do we instinctively know to be mannerly and courteous when shopping and how can we transfer whatever skills we use once on the road? Highways and byways can be dangerous places on which our vehicles are sometimes in competition for right of way, crashing and bashing like so many carnival bumper cars. Broken glass and broken bodies sometimes get strewn about. What wild instincts take over once behind the wheel of many ton conveyances?

I don't know about you, but I generally chat with children perched in the front seats of the metal contraptions that the adults are pushing and smile as I meander the aisles beaming good vibes. I have also been known to dance to the music playing overhead, much to the embarrassment of my son. Although waiting in line is no one's idea of a good time, I have not witnessed anyone losing it while standing and have actually had fun conversations with my fellow shoppers and check out clerks. I even made a friend many years ago, with whom I am still in touch, when introduced by the woman at the register.

Let's create new rules for the superhighways that more closely resemble those we seem to just KNOW how to engage in the supermarket.