I’m a very scary person. In fact, people have been known to duck down aisles to avoid me seeing them. It's not (I hope!) because I am so terrible looking or have bad breath or anything visual. It's because I do this strange thing of actually TALK to
Yes, I know. Weird, huh? I actually talk to people beyond the hi-how-are-you-today-fine-thank-you realm of words.
In my small pond of supermarket shopping, there isn’t much choice but Coles, Woolworths or the independent chain of IGA.
I shop at IGA just to be contrary. I don’t like big brand monopoly, so my dollars go toward “keeping the bastards honest” as one political slogan once said. Plus there are two other reasons I shop at IGA, rather than Coles or Woolies.
Firstly, because of brand choice. It sounds strange, but there's actually more choice at IGA. At Coles you either buy the Coles brand, the Coles Premium brand or the other tomato-and-onion-flavoured crap brand that no one likes and that gives you heartburn for days. Not much choice after all.
Secondly, I like knowing where the items are on the shelf. I tried shopping at Woolies once – for a good six months I stuck it out. Each week I went in they had moved the items around so that I could never find the item I wanted, and I ended up walking out without ever locating or buying it. It’s a wonder we didn’t starve.
Anyway (sidetracked much?) my local IGA is small and employs a great team of young people – mostly under the age of twenty-three. These people are usually studying at university, taking a gap-year, or some are just trying to decide what to do with their lives. Yes – it may surprise you, but I do stop to talk to these people and ask them about themselves.
I am essentially a cheery person. Once at a mother’s group, we played a game where we had to write a few adjectives to describe each of the other people in the group. Guess who scored the adjective “bubbly”, from nearly every single person?
Yep! That was me. I talk. I like to talk. I like to make people smile.
My shopping trips are usually long winded. I stop to chat to the staff in the store: New boyfriend yet? I like the new hair! How did the exams go? Have you found a new place to rent? When is your husband back from working away? I also stop to tickle the toddler who is making her mother’s life miserable, whining for a lolly. I play aisle tag with the woman who is shopping in the opposite direction to me, laughing as we cross each time. I playfully tell the elderly man that I still have my learner plates on when it comes to managing to make my trolley roll forward and that he will have to watch out for my bad driving. They all smile.
One staff member of our IGA was a bit of a tough nut to crack. His name is Sean – he’s in second year university, doesn’t have a girlfriend and blushes madly when I talk to him. The first day I said hello to him, he scuttled away in fright, and probably went home and told his mum about the strange woman in the store who spoke to him. The second time I saw him, I asked him what his name was because he wasn’t wearing a name badge. He stammered and stumbled and scuttled away again. The third time, I greeted him with a “Hi, Sean!” and watched him frantically try to remember if he knew me or not.
The sun broke through for me on the day I turned down the aisle where he was working, and he glanced up. It was a small glance, just to see who was entering his aisle, but he stopped, looked back at me and smiled. He even managed “Hi” without my prompting. Success!
That was over a year ago. Recently I was shopping and ran into him as he stacked fizzy drinks. He looked up with a happy, genuine smile and said, “Hey! How did the book release go?” I laughed and gushed about how fantastic the reviewers of my book were, and how nice people were being about my little story. I consider Sean my success. It took a while, but now I can say that I can put a smile on someone’s face.
Smiling is important. It releases “happy hormones” into our blood steam and makes us feel good. It’s a brain orgasm. I like orgasms – all types of orgasms. I like causing orgasms. (Dirty minds much?) I like to make people smile and laugh and have fun.
Today someone told me he loved my story, Loving Jay. He said he read it on the bus, on the train and while waiting at the train station. He said he laughed out loud, pinching his nose and trying to stop from snorting in public. He laughed while he told me this, and smiled broadly. That made me smile and laugh in return. Brain orgasms all around – the best way to be.