There are just some things none of us like to buy, or be seen buying. There was an “Adults Only” room in the Mom and Pop video rental place I used to go to in college. I always thought, “Who is brave enough to go in there? And more importantly…who is brave enough to come out and then pay for what they found?” Alabama had (possibly still has…I’m not sure) some weird laws about the selling of…*ahem*…adult toys. I remember going with a friend of mine to a lingerie store once and seeing their “toy” room which had a big “18 and Over Only” sign on the door. Now…we didn’t think it would be a huge deal to buy anything from that room; we were young, liberal college students! But what our fear was – who would see us walking out of that room? That was the only lingerie store in town, if anyone had a shower to go to, they came there. My friend had nightmares about walking out of the room with something incriminating in her hand, only to find her boyfriend’s Mom shopping for a gift for a friend. Or her Sunday School teacher. I was terrified about seeing a college professor.
There are just some purchases you want to make quickly AND QUIETLY.
I’m still weird about buying tampons. I got my first period the summer I turned 13…that was 24 years ago. Yet still…I won’t just go buy tampons and nothing else. And I won’t check out in a boy’s line. I have to bury the tampons in a pile of other crap, and it has to be a girl ringing me up. And don’t even get me started about times in my life when I’ve had to buy pregnancy tests. When Donnie and I were TTC for several years, I bought them ALL THE TIME and I hated it. I mean…of course I wanted to be pregnant…but I didn’t want the whole world to know I was mere minutes from finding out if I had succeeded or not.
Needless to say, I always bought the 3-packs.
But – in EVERY ONE of these situations – the cashier? Never mentions your purchase. The movie rental lady isn’t going to say, “Ahhh! So I see you’re renting this XXX-rated movie Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Bone! Have you seen it before? Is it good? I was thinking about watching it myself after work tonight.” The cashier at Target doesn’t say, “Ahh…I’ve never used this hemorrhoid creme before, does it work?” The Walgreens checkout person isn’t going to comment, “Oh…that time of month, huh? Me too.”
There are just some purchases we all ignore are happening. It’s a HUMAN COURTESY. We pay our money and we leave…in silence.
But food…food is an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STORY. Every cashier everywhere wants to discuss the food you’re buying. And I’m okay with that! I like to talk about new recipes I’m trying or ingredients or snacks I like. But in my case – no one ever mentions the Organic No Sugar Added Rice Pudding in my
buggy cart. Nope. No cashier ever mentions the produce or the pasta. No one ever cares about the gluten-free bread or the organic soup. None of the healthy, good, sensible food gets any attention from anyone.
NO. They all want to talk about the therapy food I’m buying.
You know how it is. You’re getting groceries and you’ve had a bad freakin’ day so you throw in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Or a bag of chips. Or a pack of cookies. It’s that thing in your
buggy cart that your super-ashamed of buying because you know you’re going to go home and eat it all in one sitting to try to cope with your anxiety, or your depression, or your stress. You know what that food is for…Why don’t they know that too? Why must they draw attention to that one guilt-filled purchased to check to see if you’ve had that flavor if ice cream before? Just scan it in silence like you do the tampons and the suppositories.
Last night was the worst. I bought – not one, but two – impulse candy bars at the checkout. I’ve had a stressful few weeks and my anxiety level is at an all-time high. I am fully aware that candy is an awful way to cope with emotional distress…BUT I DO IT ANYWAY. So I snuck those candy bars in with the few groceries I had stopped for. I knew I’d need to eat them in the car because I didn’t want my family seeing this purchase. Not because I didn’t want to share (I DID NOT WANT TO SHARE THOUGH), but because I was embarrassed about my weakness.
And the cashier stops and says, “OH…that looks so good!” when she scans my Peppermint Patty. Then she says, “These are my favorite,” when she gets to the 3-Musketeers bar. I’m just red-faced and hiding behind the card-swiper wishing she would stop drawing attention to the line behind me of my Impulse Therapy Candy purchases. I just nod/smile and don’t address the issue at hand: MY CANDY. Then she does the worst thing ever:
Ma’am…would you like me to leave this candy out for you?
Not only is she talking openly about my shame food purchase, but she’s acknowledging that it’s probably going to be eaten immediately and she’d like to help me with that by eliminating the stress of having to find which bag the candy is in when I get to the car. And while the stressed part of me was like, “YES! HAND IT OVER LADY. I’M EATING IT RIGHT HERE!” The embarrassed part of me said:
No, thanks. That’s for the kids. I told them I’d bring them home treats tonight.
Yes. Yes, I did.
I would evidently rather be seen as the type of Mom who spontaneous gives her kids terribly unhealthy candy bars, than the type of lady who eats those candy bars herself. I am fairly certain that moment for me was a Rock Bottom type of moment in terms of my Therapy Food problem. I’ve gotten so bad about medicating my anxieties with food that I’m now blaming those food purchases on my kids. I mean…that’s like taking your kid to the doctor for a cough and then drinking all of their codeine cough syrup. I AM A HORRIBLE PERSON.
So…yeah. That happened. I bought candy last night at the end of a very long and stressful day, and I blamed it on my kids. And then ate it in the 1-mile drive from the store to my house because – had they seen the candy, they would have wanted some. And there’s no way I’m letting them put that crap in their bodies.
I do have some ethical standards, you know.