Accidental Stalking

I went to the grocery store to pick up some items today. And normally nothing out of the ordinary happens while grocery shopping. No near-death experiences. No sudden attacks by random serial killers. No surprise alien invasions. Right? Not this time.

I’m going through Shop Rite and I’m in a rush so I’m moving at that brisk pace between a walk and a jog. We’ll call it a wog. The first item on my list is some almond milk so I head straight for the dairy section, ready to swipe this carton, drop it in the basket, and swing over to the next aisle.

But once I make it to dairy, I notice a little old white lady pushing her shopping cart down the center of the aisle at a whopping three inches an hour. And I’m wogging like there’s no tomorrow so this is a collision waiting to happen. So I try to avoid her and go around, but there’s traffic on both sides. I manage to pull up short behind her and keep walking, waiting for an opening that never comes. And now I’m basically breathing down her neck so she starts looking over her shoulder and is borderline hyperventilating because this big black man has suddenly pulled up behind her literally out of nowhere.

And then, a whole minute later, the traffic finally clears up so homegirl pulls her cart over to the side, hoping she can finally escape Scary Random Black Man. But by now we’re at the almond milk section so I just stand creepily behind her staring at the cartons. And this moment gives rise to a very sudden and very awkward impression: I’ve been deliberately following this woman through half of Shop Rite.

Now to remedy this situation and swiftly clarify the aforementioned impression, I intend on grabbing my almond milk and promptly being on my way, thus disproving whatever scary scenario that is probably playing out in Mama Duke’s brain right now. But as luck would have it, there are now dozens of new almond milk flavors that I’ve never seen before: coconut breeze; coconut breeze and honey; reduced sugar coconut breeze. Where is the NORMAL ALMOND MILK?!?!

So I stand there behind this woman, never before wanting to see a carton of original unsweetened almond milk more desperately and she’s hanging onto her shopping cart for dear life and trying not to make eye contact. Finally I see the almond milk I need, grab it, and wog away to the ethnic section for some rice.

Then I head over to the ice cream aisle, grab some sorbet, and head back out for the next item on the list. I’m cruising now with a one track mind and my eye on the prize when suddenly I almost crash into a shopping cart around the corner. And who is it? That same old lady.

She freaks out, swerves out the way, dodging me and the incoming PTSD, and I escape with no looking back. I get the rest of the items on my list, go to the cashier, and pay for my stuff. When I’m done, I walk out and head to the car in the parking lot. Now I’m moving real slow to calm myself down since I’m almost home free and narrowly avoided giving someone’s grandmother a heart attack. And after a full minute of walking at a very leisurely, grandfatherly pace, I realize that this whole time I’ve been walking behind that same old lady.

What is my life?

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