Friday, August 2, 2013

Maybe it's just me....

Maybe it's just me, but it seems that I encounter lots of folks mumbling to themselves these days--mostly in the Stop and Shop in Cheshire.

Look, I spent most of my adult life in or around cities--Boston, Washington, DC, Charleston WV, New Haven and Waterbury, both in CT. I've had plenty of experience with people mumbling to themselves. But most of them were homeless folks with some serious mental illness issues or alcohol issues or drug issues. Now, it seems to me, the mumbling has moved to the suburbs.

I was talking about this to the young woman who works in the package store I frequent. She is very young and thin and fit and, I must say, alluring. I was telling her about the old people in Stop and Shop who were mumbling to themselves while shopping.

"Did you check for a blue-tooth in their ear?" she asked.

"These were not blue-tooth kind of folks," I told her, they were like your grandparents age.

Then we talked about how there ought to be some generally agreed on limits to the use of cell phones in public places.

"Some people talk about really personal things," she told me (though I already knew), "and it's impossible not to listen in." (I already knew that as well--but it was great to hear someone at least 40 years younger than me say it.)

One old mumbling man was behind me in the frozen food aisles. I wanted some frozen raspberries but I almost left without them because he was so disconcerting.

As I was checking out (eggs, turkey sausage, 2 packs of raspberries on sale for 2 for $6--regularly $3.69 each) I was a bit frustrated that Eva, the check out clerk, was so slow and had to call the supervisor to put a key in her register and type something in twice for reasons I neither comprehend nor want to. But then I saw one of the mumbling old women I'd seen before pushing her cart toward the door, mumbling. She had on a hat like you'd see in Australia in a Crocodile Dundee movie except it was the stars and stripes and she was mumbling to beat the band. I was suddenly glad Eva was so slow and I wouldn't have to encounter the flag hat woman. (Actually, I've come to understand, you don't 'encounter' mumblers at all. They are in their own mumbling world and you aren't. It's much akin to a close encounter with some strange and odd being--a fox or a peacock or a penguin, for example, that you didn't expect to walk near but did.)

But Eva wasn't quite slow enough and the supervisor didn't have to be called enough times and as I left Stop and Shop another familiar woman mumbler was right behind me because I was polite enough to let a couple of new shoppers go in front of me with their carts before I left the store.

This woman is quite large and very annoyed. I've seen her several times, almost always at Stop and Shop, and she is seemingly upset with the powers that be or the check out clerk or life in general because her mumbling is quite angry and aggressive though it is so softly spoken that I can't hear it (thought I'm not sure I'd want to and, on the other hand, I want to very much altogether....)

She was walking down the aisle of cars right behind me and I thought of running but didn't and then she went to the right and I went to the left to our cars.

Mumblers driving cars might be as dangerous as people talking on cell phones. I don't know, but I think the mumbling continues when they turn the key and start their cars.

Is it just me? Am I super-sensitive to the odd and quirky folks? Or are the mumblers following me because they know they make me anxious--someone who is seldom anxious is made anxious by folks mumbling to themselves.

Or maybe they are the Cosmos's way of letting me know my future fate--my personal Hell--to endlessly walk the aisles of Stop and Shop mumbling to myself about the prices, the quality, the inequity of being 'old' and having to shop with people so much younger than you and not being able to find the aisle where the jam is....

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.