An Unwanted Encounter at the Supermarket

Or otherwise known as ‘I Should’ve Gone to the Supermarket the Day Before Like I Planned Instead of Procrastinating

I love supermarkets and grocery shopping. I find it calming to systematically peruse each aisle looking for the items on my list. For me, it’s an activity that helps me find my zen.

Yesterday though, my experience at the supermarket was furthest from calm.

I’d done my systematic combing of the aisles and got everything I needed for dinner, I was ready to go. I chose the checkout line that seemed to be moving the fastest and waited my turn. While I unloaded my ingredients for dinner onto the conveyor belt, I heard my name being called. I looked up and two checkout lines away was Aileen. I hadn’t seen her in ages! I can’t even remember the last time I saw her. These days we ‘kept in touch’ only via Facebook and even then, all I did was ‘like’ her cat-related posts.

I gave Aileen a half-hearted wave as I took out the last item from my basket for the cashier to scan, hoping she’ll return a half-hearted wave too and stay in her checkout line. Unfortunately, my luck has never been great because Aileen rushed on over to the checkout line I was in where we exchanged an awkward side-hug.

“What a surprise!” I exclaimed, injecting as much joy as I could into my greeting. I don’t like bumping into people I know at supermarkets and so far, she’s the first person I know that I’ve bumped into after all these years of shopping there. “What are you doing here?” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“I hardly come here,” she revealed, “but I found out that this is the only supermarket now that stocks the one and only cat litter that my cat will use.”

“Oh, really?” I replied absentmindedly as I handed my credit card to the cashier.  I collected my bag of groceries and moved out of the line. Aileen came with me.

“We were just talking about you last night!!!”

“We?” I stopped and faced her, confused.

“Yeah! Felicia and I!”

“You and Felicia?” Yes, I was beginning to sound like a parrot.

“Yes, last night, during Aaron’s wedding dinner. Felicia and I sat next to one another and we were talking about you!”

Aaron’s wedding dinner??? Okay, I was not liking where this conversation was going. I desperately needed to not hear anything else about this topic but I didn’t want to let her see that I was bothered by it so nonchalantly I said, “I’m surprised that I came up in conversation at all, I don’t meet any of the old gang anymore.” I stepped back hoping she’ll get the hint that I needed to go.

“Oh, we were just talking about all our friends in general, where they were, what they were doing now. Alfred was there too, with his wife and two kids but they sat at a different table. And Tat Mun flew back just for the dinner!”

In my head, I was screaming Why is she telling me all this??? But before I could stop myself, I asked “Where was the dinner?” I gave myself a mental smack.

“Oh, somewhere in KL, near Imbi. It was mostly his Singaporean friends who attended. There was just a few of us there.” I looked at my watch, pretended to be shocked at the time eventhough the time didn’t register with me and said to Aileen “Hey, it was nice to bump into you but I really have to go.” I felt no guilt about lying but I didn’t want to hear any more because I could feel my heart started to race and I was feeling very annoyed at myself for being here when I could’ve avoided this entire useless conversation had I gone to the supermarket the day before as planned.

“Oh, okay, I think I have your number,” she took out her phone and scrolled through her address book. I was already at least three feet away from her, ready to dash to the parking lot. “Here it is! I’ll give you a missed call!”

“Yes, I can feel my phone vibrating.” I didn’t bother taking the phone out of my bag and I couldn’t feel if it was vibrating or not because I didn’t care. “Keep in touch!” With a quick wave, I ran away from her.

I reached my car, got into it, rested my head on the steering wheel and took several deep breaths. I truly didn’t expect the day to turn out the way it did. I wish I could un-know what I just found out. Un-learn the fact that every year, on September 3rd, he’ll be celebrating his wedding anniversary. I wished (again and again) that I’d gone to the supermarket yesterday. I looked at my bags of groceries and thought that perhaps I should learn to find my zen in online grocery shopping from now on.

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