Against the grain

Have you ever tried to stroke a cat’s fur in the wrong direction? If so, you probably only did it once.

But such contrary action does not always result in undesirable consequences. For example, this past Saturday afternoon, while looking for BOGOs in the ice cream section of Publix, I noticed on my list that I had forgotten something located completely across the store in the bakery section. So, I wheeled my cart around and headed back, as it turned out, against the grain.

I don’t know about the supermarkets you frequent, but I can tell you that here in Florida Publix has a definite counter-clockwise setup. That is, when entering the store one finds the checkout lanes to the left and everything else to the right, thus encouraging shoppers to unconsciously make that initial right turn. Picture Mecca, where the Hajj pilgrims always circumambulate the Kaaba in a counter-clockwise direction.

As I made my way against the tide people and carts were dodging me left and right; the stock boys seemed shocked to see me coming at them from the wrong direction. People were generally courteous, but it was not all smiles, especially for those who were just exiting one of the aisles and making their customary left turn only to be blind-sided by me coming at them in what they obviously deemed to be their lane. “Oops, sorry. No, I’ll go right, that’s okay, never mind, here let me…” and so on.

Well, I located my loaf of bread and headed back toward the checkout lanes, this time going with the flow. As I was unloading my cart onto the conveyor I laughingly shared my experience with Linda, a diminutive, silver-haired checkout lady who I see there almost every week. As she was lasing my purchases, she chuckled and asked me “Aw, do you need a hug?” I responded, “Well, how could anyone ever say they couldn’t use a hug once in a while?” At which time she stopped what she was doing, came around the end of the counter, gave me a big hug and then went back to checking me out.

And people wonder why I drive four miles out of my way to go my favorite Publix.

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