Shopping can make you happy

Yes, you know you have that long, long day of work and at the end of it you decide you deserve a treat and so you go shopping. It may not be a big thing, might just be a new razor, or a t-shirt, but you just have to buy something. Well, that’s the normal kind of shopping therapy. That’s shopping from relief or perhaps happiness or perhaps for having just survived some long day.

But I now have a new kind of “shopping therapy.” I had a day last week, one of those days. Maybe everything went wrong, from the newspaper being wet on the front steps to uncooperative co-workers to a bad turkey sandwich for lunch to vague and disconcerting phone calls with colleagues and other people.

So there I was at the end of a day like that and I still had to get food for dinner, so I headed over to the local Whole Foods, where I got a hand basket and picked up some potatoes, a steak, asparagus, a pineapple, cottage cheese, instant oatmeal, a ham and brie sandwich for the next day’s lunch, a baguette. But people weren’t getting out of my way, and someone cut me off in the line at the meat counter. The day just seemed to be getting worse.

Then I made my way to the checkout lanes, scanning the row of cashiers to see who had the shortest line. The first aisle is ‘8 items or less’ and I know I can’t go there but I’m thinking maybe I qualify for the ’12 items or less’ and I’m standing there in no-man’s land counting the items in my basket when I happen to look up and see that the check-out woman in ‘8 items or less’ is looking at me, looking at her empty line and extending her arm, palm up, letting me know it doesn’t matter how many things there are in my basket. She smiles, I smile, and for the first time all day I feel happy, and she says, “you know, it’s better to be busy” and I agree, glad to know that there’s a grocery store where people are happy (she had a big smile) to break the rules to make things run more quickly and efficiently.

I thanked her profusely, asked for paper rather than plastic and was out of there in no time, happy. Happy to have saved a day at the last minute from the ‘one long shitless day’ to the ‘wow, what a great ending’ kind of day. And I still had the rest of the evening spread out before me.

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