Space Invaders

The other day, as part of my new outlook on life which I refuse to call New Year’s resolutions because that’s got a stigma attached to it, I went to the Dollar Store.  No, that’s not the part that’s the new outlook.  The part that’s the new outlook is to make sure I leave the house every day that it’s not raining.  I had been on Pinterest and saw some cool stuff about organizing with the things you can find at your local dollar store and I was seized with inspiration.


Off I went, battling the 13 degrees (F) temperature and the frosted-over windshield and the air so sharp you can feel your cheeks being sliced open all to “get some fresh air.”  The shopping center is on the side of a hilly range that are affectionately known around here as “mountains” but are nowhere near the size of even a baby mountain.  But it’s up, and it’s cold, and when I opened the car door I felt the Winter Thief snatch the air right out of my lungs.  I briefly questioned my own sanity but I still had Pinterest images dancing in my head so off I went, gulping frozen air.


I must have picked the worst possible day to go, or else everybody else was looking at Pinterest and wanted to get all the cool stuff.  There were roughly 25 people in this tiny store and while it didn’t seem too crowded it certainly felt like I wasn’t in for a relaxing time.  So in addition to stalking the aisles, I did some people watching:

Shopping Patron #1: I named her Gigi GlamourPuss.  Dyed orange hair carefully teased up and out which looked like it had triumphed over the winter wind, black leggings, leopard boots with stiletto heels, big black false eyelashes, orange lipstick, four thousand bangle bracelets, and a Michael Kors bag in the shopping cart.  She tsked and tsked as she pushed her cart everywhere, which I think was her way of saying “Excuse me” because I kept hearing the tsk whenever she was next to me.  Which was often.  If I was looking at the office supplies carefully packaged to look like the same products you buy in Staples, she suddenly found a fascination with bubble envelopes and tsked as she reached out a manicured claw to touch them.  I don’t know what perfume she was wearing, but it made me wish I was back outside in the icy air.


Shopping Patron #2: Mommy Wondergal.  Super thin, very tall, just came from her workout or hot yoga or something equally as body-conscious with her expensive workout clothes, hi-tech footgear, hair tumbled up in a careless “I-don’t-care-how-I-look-but-I-know-I-look-cute” bun, the glow of good health and great energy vibrating off her in waves, and a somewhat impatient look as she wants to sift through ALL the plastic baskets in various shapes.  Unfortunately, there are Other People who want them, too, and she is unhappy that they are not moving as quickly or efficiently as she is through the stack.  She looks at her fitbit and starts shifting from foot to foot and arching her back as if to get in another workout while she has to wait 90 seconds for enough space to find just the right storage containers for the lego sets her children are determined to bring into the House Beautiful family room she designed.


Shopping Patron #3: Mrs. MeMe.  Dyed black hair, sensible grey wool coat, pleasant face that you’ve probably seen at every PTA meeting, church service, supermarket line, and Veteran’s Day Parade.  Nice enough, but apparently everybody else in the world is the audience in her personal sitcom and we are merely there at the store to be of service to her.  There you are, minding your own business, marveling at all the aluminum foil pan options at the Dollar Store and then wondering why you’ve been paying $2.79 at the supermarket when they’re just a dollar here and why can you never remember to come here first?  And then you realize that steady noise you heard which you thought was one of the floor stockers talking to his manager is actually Mrs. MeMe and she’s been asking you a question.  “Do you think this package of Hamburger Helper is really good?  How good can it be if it only costs a dollar?  Maybe this is a knock-off kind and that’s why it’s so cheap.  Do you think Betty Crocker knows about this?  I mean, how else do they make their money?  But a dollar is a really good price, don’t you think?”  And before you can swallow and say “I’m sorry, are you talking to me?” she’s onto another product, holding up a can of soup and squinting at the ingredients but she’s not talking to you anymore because Mommy Wondergal is bearing down on her and she’s holding the can in front of her asking if it looks “authentic.”


Shopping Patron #4: Ms. IAin’tGotTimeForThis.  She is a woman who is as urban and trendy as possible as she talks to somebody on the line trailing out of her ear.  At least I think there’s somebody on the line, but they must only be listening because Ms. IAGTFT has not stopped for one little minute.  No, not even to breathe.  She is cruising the aisles discussing someplace she has to be on the fourteenth and she doesn’t even want to be there because she isn’t even sure she likes these people and why did they make it on the fourteenth and she guesses she better check her book because it sounds familiar but then she’s not even sure if it’s this month or next month but that’s okay because when she gets home after she hits the other store that might have what she’s looking for because she’s certainly not finding it here she’s going to check with those two other people who said they might not go either and then they might all go up and see Aunt Rho.  I’ve read Shakespeare that’s less confusing than this.


Shopping Patron #5: OuttaMyWay Tess.  Down vest, hiking boots, navy blue scarf, white turtleneck, steel-grey hair cropped close, no makeup (I mean, like ever: this skin looks like a baby’s bottom) and no time for nonsense.  Marches right in, no meandering, picks up three boxes of garbage bags, strides purposefully back to the register, and seems momentarily taken aback when there’s an elderly couple ahead of her on line who are chatting pleasantly with the cashier.  Chatting?  This is a store, business transactions take place here, there’s no time for pleasantries!  There’s things to do!  I have to hike a mountain!  And not these little hills that people persist in calling mountains, real ones like Mt. Hood which if you don’t stop chatting and get moving I’m going to miss my plane.  So what if it’s tomorrow.  Move, people, move!!!


Then there was me.  I paid for my $1 wastepaper basket and went home to unpin all those great ideas.  My dollar store must not be as good as the rest of the world’s dollar stores unless we just specialize in aluminum foil pans.



Same number of syllables as The Dollar Store.  Not a coincidence, I’m sure.



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2 responses to “Space Invaders

  1. I adore this. I make up stories about people in stores all the time. Especially when the self-checkout is out of commission and I’m forced to stand around in line awkwardly trying not to look at what’s in other peoples’ carts (and completely failing).

  2. Great article, I am the observant type too, an some of the ones you describe could have easily been with me in the store today! Lovely!

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