Way Better

You know how you can keep criss-crossing with another shopper at the grocery store? I had an especially awkward one this morning, because she was also driving right behind me most of the way to the store, and we parked just a few spaces away from each other and then walked into the store in tandem, with little “Am I going in first or are you?” glances and hesitations, and THEN we kept criss-crossing.

We wisely stuck to wry little smiles until we were at the far end of the store and could dip into the stash of Awkward But Friendly Verbal Acknowledgements of the Situation. There aren’t many of those, so you don’t want to use them up in the first few aisles. First she brought out “We meet again!,” and then I used “It’s like synchronized swimming!,” and then she pulled into the checkout lane next to mine and remarked that it had taken us almost exactly the same amount of time to complete our shopping, and I agreed that it had.

But remember we were parked near each other in the parking lot. I was hoping my checkout lane would be faster, because my car was farther back. But no, she was first, so I had to walk past her to get to my car. I used “It was a tie!,” with a friendly little laugh—which was fine. I mean, she’s not going to tell the family about it at dinner tonight, but it wasn’t an embarrassment of a remark.

But I realized on the way home (with her car once again behind mine) that what I SHOULD have done was get a running start out of the store, and then fly the cart past her while yelling “RACE YOU HOME!!!”

26 thoughts on “Way Better

  1. Aimee @ Smiling Mama

    When I was 9mos pregnant with my youngest son, but still about 2 weeks from my due date, I criss-crossed with two women for an entire grocery store trip, too. At EVERY aisle they made a comment about how big I was or how I was “gonna walk that baby right out!” It was SO ANNOYING. They’re lucky I didn’t chuck a can at them in the canned goods aisle. But when I got home and was putting away my HUGE amount of groceries (seriously enough for about 3 weeks!) I felt my first contractions and Nathaniel was born in the wee hours of the next morning.

    So they were right after all, but sill really annoying!

  2. Swistle

    Life of a Doctor’s Wife- Ack, way worse with the acquaintance. “So…how are the kids?” Next aisle: “So…enjoying this weather?” Next aisle: “So have you seen Monica lately?” ACK.

  3. MomQueenBee

    Oh, yeah, the criss-crosser you know is so much worse, because you have stopped in the produce aisle and exchanged every pleasantry you know. I once lingered in the organic chips for 10 minutes just to avoid more criss-crossing, and I don’t even buy organic chips.

  4. Anonymous


    You probably could have trumped her with “Shopping for 7 takes awhile!” as you zoomed by, but RACE YOU HOME would have been awesome (and is much more light-hearted and friendly!).

    Cute story.

  5. Surely

    That would have been funny, for sure! Next time, right?

    So awkward when it happens. I’m such a baby that I will veer from my shopping just to avoid it.

  6. jen(melty)

    once I did the in/out thing with a man and his baby girl. He parked right next to me, we went in.. but I never saw him till we were together at the checkout where I purchased $200 worth of groceries and he had four things in his cart. He was probably just killing time, but I like to joke about me being way more efficient.

  7. kristiina

    I would have found a reason to stay in the store longer…like going back for one more item, or something. Perhaps I have a more serious problem with awkward social situations than I thought :)

  8. lucidkim

    I wouldn’t have run into her more than once – I hate that kind of awkwardness. Would have skipped aisles and come back to them later or whatever I needed to do. I can be friendly if I have to be but I really hate it. All that chipper blah-blah with someone I don’t know and will never see again. k

  9. Sarah

    Haha, this made me laugh out loud!

    I think the only reason this senario never happens to me is because I spend 85% of my time at grocery store back-tracking to retrieve what I forgot to get.

  10. Stimey

    I love so much how you can take an experience that all of us have, but probably don’t think about much, and turn it into a brilliant little vignette that has all of us saying, “Yes! That! Exactly!”

    This is precisely why I keep my head down and avoid eye contact in public.

  11. Doing My Best

    I did not know there was a term for this! “Criss-crossing” Thanks for teaching me something new today =)!

    And I am also someone who will alter what I’m doing so that I don’t continue criss-crossing with someone else.

  12. Slim

    The thins is, if you’d done that, you couldn’t have posted here to announce how funny you’d been, and this way, you get to tell us what you wish you’d said, and then you can still use this the next time it happens.

    And she will tell her family at dinner how funny you are.

    Everybody wins!

  13. Bibliomama

    Did you howl with despair and sink to the kitchen floor when you thought of it? Because I would have. I might have driven back to the grocery store and tried to find someone else to criss-cross with just to use it.

  14. Sam

    Your Saturday posts are always a treat. I look forward to them, so never stop. Okay?

    I was at the store and saw someone I knew but he was with his wife and I knew it would be SUPER AWKWARD so I tried the “go in other checkout lane and avert eyes” method. It did not work. It was so awkward for me AND the wife. He was cheerfully oblivious, as one is permitted to be at the age of 83.

  15. M.Amanda

    “RACE YOU HOME!” would have been too funny. Considering how introverted I am, it’s surprising how much I enjoy that sort of connection with strangers, like the time I was one of two people in a crowded restaurant who saw a man walk into the floor-to-ceiling window next to the door.

    However, recently on the way home I ended up behind someone for more than 5 miles, through a dozen or more turns. I was so glad that I was close enough behind him that he could see me pull into my garage. I wanted to shout out the window, “See? Clearly I AM NOT a crazy stalker following you! It was a coincidence that your route was the same as my way home!”

  16. Kalendi

    Yes, race you home! Why do we only think of these things after the fact? I hate criss-crossing (new term, I like it) but find it’s worse when it’s only casual acquaintances. (and sometimes i desparately am tryin to remember their name or even where i know them from!) Love your story, thank you

  17. clueless but hopeful mama

    I JUST DID THIS TODAY. But it was an acquaintance whose name I couldn’t remember. By the third time I saw her I had a guess but it was only a guess and I didn’t want to mess it up and it would awkward if I got it wrong and potentially awkward even if I got it right to suddenly drop her name into our mindless banter and….

    this is how people become hermits. I’m now scared to go the GROCERY STORE.

  18. Heather R

    hilarious!!! I was also literally laughing out loud! When I end up in that awkward criss-cross pattern, I will purposefully skip ahead several aisles and then go back if I need to. Unless I have the kids with me…I feel like having kids with me is so distracting that I tend not to make eye contact or notice anyone else in the store at all. In fact, people are probably trying to avoid ME in that case.

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