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by adam mathes
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Safely Away

It was late when I got back from the airport but I decided I should go to the grocery store. I would probably want breakfast tomorrow, I reasoned, and this required some shopping.

Potatoes, cheese, eggs, milk. I decided to compromise my fresh orange juice integrity and buy some Odwalla pasteurized pseudo-fresh juice.

There was only one register open, since it was nearly midnight at Safeway.

The young couple in front of me were groping each other. They were buying Cheez-its and a bottle of water. Their public displays of affection seemed a bit more than I could handle and I tried to give them a fair amount of space in the check-out area.

I’m not sure it mattered to them.

I took my missing breakfast pieces out of the basket and began the card swiping and other aspects of purchasing.

The goods of the next customer eventually piled up behind mine. Lean Cuisines and other accouterments of what appeared to me to be a sad single life. I looked and it was a woman wearing a Google t-shirt. She looks lean enough, I though, she probably could just eat regular cuisine.

She seemed cute and a possible common employer might have been an entry point to a conversation, but it wasn’t.

Outside a girl sipped her Pepsi through a straw and was striking up a conversation with one of the employees. They were surprised to find out they were both high school students at the same place.

And it struck me that I’m losing whatever tenuous connection I have to new parts of humanity. Because if i can’t relate to these people - the people at safeway at 11pm on Saturday - I mean, these are my people. Going to safeway at weird hours is exactly what i used to do when i was younger, and I imagine it’s what I’ll be doing when I’m older too.

Maybe I just need to shop in silence.

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