Being surrounded by grocery-shopping crowds all day has given me a chance to truly discover who the general public is and what they’re doing here. All of these people are real, most you have seen in your travels, and one of them could be you¹.
Linus is a first-year university student from a suburb of a suburb in middle Ontario. His cart is filled with pre-packaged hot dogs, white bread and Mr. Noodles’s noodles. His eyes are in a permanent state of shock as if he is continuously seeing the Virgin Queen or the Virgin Mary or something equally acknowledgeable. For no legitimate reason, he reminds me of Mitch Hedberg. I whisperingly ask him how he feels about blackjack, escalators, and the letter ‘x’. I do not get a response. He is not the profound comic I longed for.
Bernie is the dopplegänger of a flamboyant biker character created by Robin Williams. And he’s talking to himself. Wait, scanning for bluetooth. Nope, just him and himself in his little world. The white fuzz protruding from his sweater is longer than Rumpelstiltskin’s, and I am not going to rule out his being a yeti. As he leaves, carrying more boxes of tea biscuits than one man should, he exclaims in a crescendo, “Oh no! My pants are falling down. Everything’s happening to me today.”
Tilly is the female understudy in her theatre troupe’s version of Beauty and the Beach. She was preparing to thieve but retracted the notion when she saw me and developed a legitimate case of paranoia. Her daughter, who is trying her best to still fit in the cart, is wearing a tiara, and the word angel is calligraphied onto the butt of her pants.
Shelley is a pharmacist assistant, according to her name tag. Sometimes when she tells people what she does for a living, they think she’s stuttering and that she actually works on a farm. In an ironic twist, that is what she has always wanted to do. She is purchasing a Cats are better than men poster for her home, with the assertion therein undeniable to me and anyone else I ask.
Harold is a balding hypochondriac who has been odour-testing deodorants for almost an hour, intentionally reminding me of the guy with the eggs from Clerks. Three dozen free rangers in the upper crust of his cart solidifies this trigger. He is 23 and believes he will stay that way forever. In many ways, he isn’t wrong. Three months from now, he will meet a woman in a bar and convince her he’s charming. She will become his wife, and then his ex-wife, then his wife again, and then his widow.
¹ [cue a short clip from the Unsolved Mysteries theme, which is still and will always be terrifying]