This was my conversation with the cashier at a local grocery store that we used to frequent a few evenings past.
Cashier: Oh, hey, I have not seen you in a while.
Me: (glancing behind me to make sure I did not accidentally budge in front of someone) Who, me?
Cashier: Yeah, you used to come in here with that guy who was always so nicely dressed.
Me: (Confirmed he is talking to me and referencing my ascot or pocket square sporting husband, awkwardly answering) You remember me?
Cashier: Well, some customers just stand out.
Me: (thinking that I must be really freaky looking to stand out in a popular grocery chain in a city of 3 million) Oh, yeah, we have been shopping online since the freeway construction began – this city is getting really hard to navigate (yes, I am partially lying but after he recognized me and I was a bit freaked out I could not tell him that we have been shopping online AND at their major competitor which is in fact closer to home).
Cashier: Oh, that’s too bad, I miss seeing some of my regulars. The online business is snatching them away.
Me: (insert awkward giggle) Yeah, I bet it is.
Anyone else think it is a bit freaky that this guy remembered me? It is not like we shopped there exclusively and at the same time every day/week/month. I probably stand out a bit with my obsessive cart organization that is coordinated with my list which is organized by department which further coordinates with the meals for the week. Or I guess we could stand out because M. hates grocery shopping so I give him his own list of things to get and we convene at the checkout with two half full carts, but there are only two of us. We didn’t shop that frequently nor do we purchase extraordinary things on a regular basis.
This interaction started my thought train. I hear from families who have returned with their children that they are constantly stared down and often approached in question of their children’s orgin. My first reaction is to respond to their complaints that people are so rude. While that is true, people are also curious. Curiosity overlaps nosey, but often it is intended as innocent. For example, I was at a coffee shop last week. Outside there were two darling Ethiopian pre-school aged children with their mother and her friend. I admit to sitting outside near them. I fought back every urge to ask if they created their family through adoption. I probably stared more than I would have if they were children of any other circumstance. I was curious and admittedly nosey.
I didn’t ask, even though I could have used the appropriate way of doing so which would have been something like this: “Your children are beautiful, my husband and I are adding a child to our family through adoption from Ethiopia. Since we are in the waiting stage, we find ourselves every curious about other families that may be like ours.” If in fact her children are adopted this leaves the opportunity for her to talk to me about her situation or to choose to say “that’s nice” while she gestures her children away from this crazed potential baby snatcher. I can not assume what I think her situation to be nor can I demand my questioning be a good time for her to talk about it.
Back to grocery store guy, I am certain our family will no longer be as inconspicuous as I thought we were, but I was reminded by this well intending man that I should be using this time to craft some succinct responses to the common questions that may make my blood curdle. From the current response I have to this all too common question below, you should gather that I have to ponder removing the snark for the sake of my child.
Stupid query: Are those your real children?
Not the best answer: No, dip-wad, they are my plastic children.
Our agency newsletter discussed this topic a while back. I will read up and get back to you.
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