A Little Essay about Small Talk and Food

Small talk and I have an awkward relationship, and so when I go to Trader Joe's and the cashiers are trained to ask, "How's your day going?" I tend to think too much. It's usually early in the day, and I'm unable to come up with an answer more imaginative than, "Fine, and yours?" This helps a little, since I don't think the cashiers can go outside except on break or to collect shopping carts, and other than that watch shredded cabbage and hummus and dark chocolate go by.

Today, when I turned the question back on itself, the cashier said she had just been on her lunch break. It was 10am. When I guessed that she had gotten there at six, she said five, and I said, "Stocking shelves?" which she confirmed and said most people ask what she does at that hour. I used to work in retail and so has some of my family, so I did know. The cashier seemed to want to continue, and I had nothing I wanted to add, so I asked if she found any particularly good food that she recommended this morning? She was quiet for so long I felt badly for making her think too hard.

"No, no, that's good. I should be able to answer that." She brightened. "If you like dark chocolate and mangos, there are dark-chocolate covered mangos in a silver tin. I kept going back for more. And I kept the tin."

I said I would look for them next time, but she cautioned that they were a holiday item, so I should get them soon. I guess I will have to go back. But now, at least, I will know what to say.


dinahmow said…
I also have a problem with check-out chat.
But the one that will stay in my mind is the eager lad (probably a school holiday job) who very brightly asked the woman ahead of me, clad head to toe in Islamic dress, "Done all your Christmas shopping now? All ready for Santa? " And, as he gave her the receipt, "Merry Christmas!"

Liz A said…
the empathy that comes of shared experience ... I waited tables for a time and tend to tip heavily as a result

btw, I pulled out my copy of Creating Handmade Books ... the Jacob's Ladder form is now on my (long) list of things to make someday
Alisa said…
dinahmow—oh, those cringeworthy moments! and someone digs themself in deeper and deeper…

Liz A—empathy, that's really it, and what we need more of these days.