I consider it my civic duty to analyze the purchases of anyone in front of me in the grocery checkout line. It's what I do. I find a stranger's purchases a little more interesting than the faux stories on the magazine covers staring at me.
Like reading tea leaves or the palm of someone's hand, I consider myself a bit of voyeur, piecing together the details of their life based on what sits on the belt before me. Gatorades and fruit snacks are a sure sign of a busy mom. I've doled out plenty of both to my brood on many a summer day trip. Store baked goods? Ah, big spender who likes to indulge and hates to make brownies, I feel ya' sister. All of this, mind you, taking place in my head.
But there are other things that happen ahead of me in line, that take my assumptions in another direction. Call it judgmental or cynical, but there are things that I've witnessed that I can't quite wrap my head around.
I never would have noticed how the woman in front of me was paying, except her card was being declined. I never would have known it was an Access card, until she announced it to everyone, not that there's anything wrong with that. Hard times, disabilities, what have you, I get it.
I never would have noticed the purse she pulled the card from, except it took up the entire front seat of the shopping cart, the place where we put toddlers, so they can't escape. The oversized purse was covered with a pattern of uppercase letters: MK. I probably wouldn't have noticed the wallet where the card was stored, which was also covered in designer initials: C for Coach.
Here's why it bothered me. No, I don't think that the money this woman saved on groceries allowed her to buy a designer bag. Even if it did, that's not my business.
My problem is, the message someone intends to send out into the world, by carrying a designer bag is possibly contradicted by the use of government funds to pay for food. A big, loud, and proud designer bag, to me, is a bag that costs more than my weekly grocery bill. A woman carrying one, in my opinion, has her proverbial shit together.
A designer bag, an expensive car, they're calling cards. They announce to anyone interested, (read: nosy shopper behind you) that you can afford the finer things in life. So, do me a favor, don't keep your government Access card there. Because, it leaves the rest of us questioning which of those two things are really necessary.
The Judgmental Woman Behind You in Line