The Grocery Store Isn't So Safe After All...

January 5, 2010
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“Can you guys go grab two loaves of bread please?” Chelsea’s mom asks us as the three of us make our way through the grocery store. We nod our heads and begin to walk across the store to the aisle overflowing with colorful bags of whites, wheats, ryes, buns and bagels.

“YUM, how about this?!” Chelsea giggles as she tosses a loaf of bread covered with seeds and nuts into my arms.

“Haha, yeah, no thank you,” I laugh throwing it back her way.
Still chuckling, she turns around quickly and we continue our journey to the bread we are really after. As we walk down the aisle a man browsing the shelves catches both our eyes and we exchange a glance of confusion and silliness.

Is this guy for real? His sandals, painted toenails and dark, curly, long ponytail make him seem a little… different. His light jeans and turquoise vest sit snuggly on his body, and although he may just sound like an average town oddball, the stone hard scowl pasted across his face is a sign to us that maybe this guy isn’t too friendly.

We muster up our fortitude and slide by this mystery man and continue our way to what we are searching for. Success! Freihofers Split-Top Wheat finally stares back at us and we each grab a bag. Chelsea and I continue down the aisle and make our way out of this particular one to begin the new hunt for her mom and our cart of food.

As we look down the new aisle we’re in we again see our ponytail-ed friend. We quickly notice that he sees us too. Thinking this was just a silly coincidence, Chelsea and I shoot each other another giggle filled glance, and try to hold back the laughter. We continue down the aisle trying not to create a scene, but I wonder to myself if we were successful, seeing how this man’s eyes never left our bodies.
Still attempting to contain our preteen laughter, we trudge on through the store that is beginning to seem never-ending. Suddenly, a box falls off a shelf and both mine and Chelsea’s heads whip back behind us to see what happened. Shock now joins the bursting laughter when we notice this perplexing person is yet again near us, and now seeming like he’s up to something. But still, we don’t think much of it, and instead, sharply turn the corner into yet another aisle in a poor attempt at evasion.
Quickly it’s no longer hard to contain the giggles, as they run away and hide from what is now among our eyes. It is clear we have a follower. With a glower still glued to his face, this man with dark red toenails is still behind us, and beginning to pick up his pace. Alarm and dismay overcome my friend and I as we cling tightly to each other and start walking so fast, it’s almost a jog. We tramp down the aisle and around a corner turning back every few seconds, only to find that this strange and creepy man is still right behind us clutching his shopping basket. I now know for sure this isn’t a game at all, nor just a silly coincidence, and I wonder, Is his grimace getting bigger every time we look back?
Racing around the corner in search for a hiding spot or a safe person, Chelsea and I find ourselves up against a large display and are forced to split up in order to keep our pace up. My throat is tightening and my mind is out of control as I start to consider what this man could be trying to do. As I hurl myself around the huge pile of boxes I am finally in plain sight of someone I know. I run straight to Chelsea’s mom and cling tightly to her arm. Panting and out of breath, all I can manage to spew out is, “Oh my God. OH my god. OH MY GOD!”
“What’s wrong? What happened?!” she quickly interrogates, as finally Chelsea too flies around the corner and runs up to us. As we search for the words to somehow explain what had just happened, we look over and see the ominous man with his haunting face, gently walking by with his grocery filled basket still upon his arm. He slowly turns his head and looks at all three of us, this time seeming angry. Leisurely he turns back away and continues walking, leaving us in a trance of pure consternation.
“Who is that man?!” Chelsea’s mom wonders aloud, hoping to get a logical answer from one of us that might help piece together what had just taken place. Her eyes widen as she begins to realize that something could have happened to us, and the look on her face begins to look more like mine and Chelsea’s-struck with fright.
“We have no idea! He just followed and chased us around the store and and, oh my God, it was so freaky!!” Chelsea erupts, as I stand next to her, nodding in pure shock.
“Wow, you guys better stay with me. That is just plain ridiculous,” her mom says with nervousness drenching her words.
As the three of us begin to finish up our shopping trip, now moving together as a unit on the lookout for any grocery store creeps, I keep wanting to know exactly who that man was. Did he really want to catch us? What would he have done to us if he had caught up? And most importantly, what could have happened if Chelsea’s mom hadn’t been right around that corner? People like this man are the ones who place fear in women and children throughout the world. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t actually hurt anyone- he still placed a fear in us that we should not have to worry about, especially at the grocery store. After having such a terrifying experience, I have learned that it’s very important to be conscious of the different types of people floating around, and also that just because you think it’s a safe place- it might not be. It’s sad to say that somewhere as simple as the grocery store could potentially be dangerous, but that is the truth with the ugly world we live in today.

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