Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gladys and The Close Shopper

Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Judge Reinhold played Elaine’s boyfriend “The Close Talker”? He would get as close to the other characters as possible. It wasn’t that he was rude or even offensive, he was actually a really nice guy he was just a “Close Talker”. I remember when that episode first came on I was crying laughing because Judge Reinhold played the part so well. I never thought that he really existed because I’m all about respecting people’s personal space.
I am always reminded of a self-defense class I took one time. Yes Gladys can kick your ass six ways to Sunday. Well I can in my mind. Think Jackie Chan meets Barney Fife or Chuck Norris mixed with Chris Farley, yes I am a virtual ass kicking machine. Notice I say virtual. My self defense instructor told us to pretend we were a mime and stretch our arms out like we were in an invisible box. He told us to put that box all around us and that was our personal space. I have been mindful of that personal space ever since. I think it’s interesting that my self defense instructor was Asian and he was talking about personal space. You know your standing on line at Disney, Universal Studios, Six Flags or heck even TSA at the airport and there are five million Asian tourist all trying to fit into a 2ft space. There is no personal space there. Let’s just say I am aware of my personal space.

I recently had to go shopping for personal goods. Kahuna went to get his hair cut and I ran into Target to get Q-Tips and toilet paper. I took my cart and went down the completely devoid of other shopper’s toilet paper aisle. I was examining the different brands trying to determine the most for the least. I suddenly feel a little pressed. I move my cart a few feet and I feel it again. I turned and looked and there was a woman with her cart within inches of me. Where the heck did she come from? I was alone. Alone I tell you, by myself, a solitary shopper among the stacks of Charmin and Angel Soft. I moved again and she moved. I moved, she moved.

You have to understand I come from a relatively big city where purses get snatched from shopping carts. Heck they get snatched from your shoulder so I have paranoia built in. Perhaps she was a kleptomaniac like Wynona Rider and she was using me to shield her deception. Or could it be that she was the dreaded close shopper. I gave up and pulled my cart out into the completely empty aisle and moved on thinking I’ll come back to this aisle later. I moved to the baby shampoo and Q-tip aisle. I was perusing the different types of cotton swabs and baby shampoo when I got that eerie feeling again. I looked up and she was back. Her cart inches from mine. Was she trying to cheat off my grocery list? Was she envious of the items in my cart? Did she think I was a celebrity and wanted to be just like me? What the heck? I took my cart in hand and moved to the next aisle leaving the Close Shopper to ponder over Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and baby wipes. I rolled the cart to the vitamin aisle. I reached down to pick up the jumbo bottle of Fish Oil Capsules which caused me to have my posterior stuck out a bit. I bend then I bump. I turned and looked. There pressed against my derriere is the basket of the Close Shopper. I grabbed the bottle of fish burps and straightened up. I turned and mustered up my best “back off bitch” glare. Ok really I just gave her my “What the heck?” look. She didn’t even acknowledge me.

I decided the best thing to do was to just move on. I needed a birthday card and so I pushed my whole cart and caboodle to the greeting cards. I stood immersed in the gallery of American Greetings and Hallmark when again I felt the pressure of another. I looked up and there she was standing with her cart within inches of mine. I had enough. I was done. Kung Fu Gladys was about to burst out of me like the Incredible Hulk from David Banner. This was beyond coincidence it was stalking. It was harassment. It was just plain weird.

I stood and turned ready to pounce, ready to strike, and ready to confront the close shopper. I looked at her and said “Am I in your way?” She looked up at me with feigned innocence and replied “Um, no.” Then went back to studying her Far Side Birthday Greeting. I again leashed out “Because if I’m in your way I can always move.” The close shopper looked at me the way my boxer looks when you ask him a question, her head moved from one side to the other with a total look of confusion. Did this deter Samurai Gladys? Absolutely not. I pressed on “Because for some reason it seems as if your cart is attached to my ass and every where I go you are with in inches of me. So is there something I can help you with?” With that the Close Shopper returned her card to the rack, backed her cart out of the aisle and ran towards the front of the store.

I finished my shopping and was met by Kahuna as I reached the check-out station. He excitedly approached me and said “Hey did you see her?” I was at a loss. See who? Julia Roberts? The Queen Mum? Princess Leah? “Who, honey?” I asked. He sighed and took the basket from me “The crazy lady threatening people?” I looked at him and then it hit me “Oh you must mean the Close Shopper. Yeah she followed me through the store.” He started putting the items on the conveyor and said “No, I don’t think so they said this woman was threatening people. See that lady over there?” I looked towards the customer service desk where he was pointing only seeing what looked like the manager and the Close Shopper. “Yeah,” I said “that’s her. The Close Shopper. She was following me all over the store and just being way too close.” Kahuna then looked at me and at my jacket and then back at my face and said “No, honey, she is the one complaining about the crazy lady. She said she had frizzy hair, a white jacket, brown cords and Ugg boots on.” I handed the clerk my money that I took from my brown corduroy pants as I straightened my white jacket. I put my on my sun glasses and smoothed down my frizzy hair and told Kahuna “Let’s get out of here.”


Girly Stuff said...

I could not stop laughing! Well told!

I was sure you were in Walmart...but then I reread and much to my disappointment it was Target. Scratch it off the list of safe places to shop! What's left?

Anonymous said...

The only way to get me shopping is to do so with a specific list...15 items or less and for things we have already purchased previously. My wife sends me a list three night a week and I go to the place she sends me.

The rule is that I do not stop anywhere...I just keep moving and pick off the shelf what I need...NO STOPPING!!!!!

It is because I cannot have people crowding me...I feel your pain adn hope you didn't make the local police blotter...

terri said...

Hahahahahahahaha! Noooo, you made that up, didn't you? The last part? She didn't go tell on you, did she?

I had a close shopper in Target one time. My kids were totally weirded out by her.

Then again, I've probably been complained about now and then too. I once shopped around Target grabbing this and that. When I was almost done, I grabbed my cart and wandered about another 6 aisles from where I had previously been. I grabbed another necessity and went to throw it in my cart only to realize "this is NOT MY cart!"

I had taken off with someone else's stuff. I just exited the store quietly.

Anonymous said...

I never have that much fun when I go to TARGET!!

I used to work at a Community College when I lived in Tulsa. I was told/warned when I first got the job that if I ever came into contact with the Provost of the college I would instantly know because he had no boundaries and would always get into people's face when he talked with them. Sure enough, months passed and one day this short, balding guy appeared in my department and began to talk to me - he stood so close I felt he was gonna suck the breath right out of me. How this guy every got to this prestigious position is a mystery to me. No social skills. Yukky!

Debbie said...

I love any reference to Seinfeld. You told this so well! How funny.

The Texas Woman said...

"Cheat off my grocery list" too funny! You did solve a mystery for me, though. Elevators. The sign reads "No more than 18 people in this elevator. 1200 pound limit." They must be made for a terribly thin culture who have no personal space issues. Thanks.

The Texas Woman

Jean Martha said...

OMG. I hate those people. I had one at Target once too - but when I finally asked her to get off my ass I found out she was from "loss prevention". Cripes. I'm not a damn shop lifter, get off my ass.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand for people to get in "my space", it drives. me. crazy! I've learned a little trick when I'm in the check out line and people crowd me, I just make sure my buggy (that's southern for shopping cart) is between me and the person behind me and I can control the space issue.