Cell Phone Shopping

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    While I stood mesmerized in the cereal aisle, overwhelmed by the great wall of boxes, I tried to remember if it was Fruit Rings or Fruity Hoops that I had been instructed not to buy. One of them, I had been warned repeatedly, was flat-out bad.

    In 2009, also known as the year of living parsimoniously, having instant mental access to info like this – a list of preferred store brands, that is – had become crucial to my shopping. Finding new ways to say “frugal” also had become important, hence my use of the word parsimoniously.

    After pondering it all for far too long, I grabbed a box of overpriced Frosted Flakes and felt reassured that at least it would be eaten. I laughed a little, knowing that had I been a cell phone user, I would have simply called my young teenaged daughter and asked her which cereal to buy. She would really appreciate hearing this little story later. I do try to keep a loose count of situations like this, when having my cell phone with me (instead of at home in its charger) might have served some higher purpose.

    That’s when I heard her. From beyond the great cereal box wall came the voice of the loud talker from the pickle aisle.

    You know the type. They’re compulsive talker-shoppers. I’m sure there’s some marketing or pop culture term that’s been coined to designate these people, but I don’t know it, so I’ll just call them annoying. It’s a dangerous combination: the talking and the shopping. I have a hard time getting our grocery shopping done at all, let alone conducting a conversation while I’m doing it. This is probably why I stopped bringing my kids to the grocery story once they learned how to speak intelligently.

    So, as I was subjected to loud talkershopper’s litany of troubles, including car woes, a family flu epidemic, and a jobless brother-in-law, I thought: This is why I can’t stand cell phones. This is why my brilliant and sensitive daughter doesn’t own a cell phone. For more evidence that cell phones are generally a scourge on society, I need only observe a pack of teens at the mall, walking home from school, or outside a movie theater. They’re all friends I guess, presumably gathered together for that reason. Why is it then, that each is on his or her phone talking to or texting someone else? Hmmm…teen social behaviors.

    Anyway, as if to fortify my stance with the aforementioned brilliant teenaged daughter that cell phones will lead to the ultimate downfall of humanity, or at least seriously screw up the way people communicate with each, I rounded the corner and was amazed to see a wide-eyed little girl perched in the front of talker-shopper’s grocery cart.

    The 2- or 3-year-old was chattering excitedly and flailing her arms, trying to get her mother’s attention. Maybe she should have called her. Whatever the little girl wanted was obviously in the back of the grocery cart. A quick scan on my part revealed that it wasn’t the toilet paper or even the Teddy Grahams.

    Her indiscriminate animal blanket combo, obviously a “lovey” from way back, had fallen into the abyss and the toddler was a moment away from diving in for the rescue herself. In an instant, I swooped in for the save and delivered said “lovey” back to the grateful little girl.

    All this went down in about eight seconds. Loud talker-shopper then excused herself from her conversation, stroked her daughter’s cheek, shot me a dirty look, apologized to the person on the other end of the call, and took up where she left off as she preceded down the cereal aisle.

    On my way out, I snagged a mondo-size box of Fruit Loops for the girls. With the money we’ll be saving on cell phone service, we can afford the real thing.

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    Karen Schwartzkopf
    Karen Schwartzkopf has her dream job as managing editor of RFM. Wife, mother, arts and sports lover, she lives and works in the West End with her family: husband Scott, who not coincidentally is RFM’s creative director, and their daughters—Sam, Robin, and Lindsey. You can read Karen’s take on parenting in the Editor’s Voice.