I must admit I laughed as I put the title of this blog like the "grocery store" is some daunting place, but in all reality it has been for me. I don't have anything against the place, or the food it offers up, but rather walking down the aisles has always been challenging for me because random eye contact seems to initiate a random conversation.
Because of the challenge of the grocery store I felt it right to have my second outing with the sunglasses be at a grocery store (and, to be honest, I wanted carrots!).
Schuncks (the name of the store) is close so just a 2 minute drive in my car and I was there. I was hoping for more contact than yesterday's 7-11 outing as I walked through the doors and walked straight to the carrots.
Two employees of the store were discussing produce placement and I looked at them, while walking, and noticed just how much communication is done without words. I can't recall the words that were said, but the minor twitches and the look of understanding as if to say, "yes, we can do that" amazed me.
From the carrots I went to get some milk, then a Red Bull, and then I proceeded to check out.
For this experiment I did not use the express self check out lanes (these lanes have been a Godsend!) but instead I used the conventional. check out that uses real people.
I entered the line and the person in front of me instantly asked me "how I was". I got tense because this is something that usually doesn't happen. After a few words it was their turn to checkout.
When it was my turn to pay the cashier asked me the same thing, "how are you?". I, again, am not used to this. What struck me though was the level of niceness in the tones. These questions were not labored from the clerk as they usually are.
I didn't hear my total answer because I was thinking so hard upon what this weird level of niceness was. I thought, jokingly, "Wow, do I have a sign on me that says 'talk to me'?" Then I realzied that it wasn't that I had a sign that said "talk to me" but instead I don't have the sign that says "don't talk to me".
In just that short experience at the store I can surely say that when I go into a situation and don't make eye contact the social environment becomes hostile in a way. Other people get defensive and that just furthers the gap. With the sunglasses people don't know I'm looking away so they don't get defensive. Honestly, and I know this has only happened once, I feel as if a new dimension of socializing has opened up because I am not starting behind.
I often feel as if I am starting a proverbial race two laps behind because there is a different tone from others and this can only be from me looking at everything but them. Today I experienced the race starting on the same level and I could not believe the difference.
Later today I will be going to lunch at The Olive Garden, alone (if you have read "My rules > Your rules" you will understand the size of this act) and will write about it when I return home later this afternoon.