Sweeping Up and The Differences Between The Sexes


Writers end up doing a lot of things on the side to fuel the creativity and pay the bills while waiting for a novel to go viral. In other words, we wind up doing a lot of the same things aspiring actors and other artists do to make ends meet whether it’s working in a car wash, waiting tables, cleaning houses or whatever. Me? I bag groceries, shag shopping carts, clean restrooms and break rooms and sweep and mop floors in the a retail store. You might think that something as basic as running an industrial-sized, 36 inch microfiber dust mop over a resilient tile floor would be the last place to arrive at an epiphany, but if you do you obviously don’t know how the mind of an only Elgon works.


While I was pushing along the mop wondering how a floor can accumulate so much crud in a mere six hours since opening, negotiating an obstacle course of attended and unattended shopping carts and randomly places humanity, I recalled something someone posted on Facebook the other day about experiencing ‘road rage’ while pushing attempting to shop in the worlds largest retailer of just about everything imaginable. I refuse to give the great melting pot of shopper diversity a plug here because I hate shopping there too and for the same reason expressed in the Facebook post. Specifically I can’t stand people who turn their shopping basket sideways as if they were the police performing a roadblock on a major highway. I understand it is difficult to decide whether to buy the institutional size Fruit Loops or Honeynut Cheerios as the week’s breakfast staple for the herd of kids when both are on the weekly BOGO (buy one get one) promotion, the kids love both but you don’t have room in the pantry at home of four humongous boxes.


Notice I said people in the last paragraph. I’m not really out to offend anyone here but, honestly, you knew I was talking about a shopping mom. You see, in our society it is generally the female of the species who buys the groceries. There are some pretty good reasons for that, I think. God knows when I was married and had little kids at home all of us would have starved to death had I been in charge of getting groceries.

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Men are not power shoppers as a rule. However, we can be made into efficient fetchers. Give us a shopping list and fifteen things on it one Sunday afternoon just twenty-five minutes before a big televised game and we’re like heat seeking missiles homing in on each and every target on the slip of paper. We’ll be back with everything before the kickoff, first pitch or tip off – or we will die in the process.

By the way, the reason women think men never ask for directions is that they are never with us when we have a shopping list in a grocery store and a self-imposed time limit for the outing. Not only will you see us asking directions, especially if we have rarely ever been in the store, but also you will notice us going out of our ways to find store clerks to ask, “Where do you guys keep the coffee creamer?” And when we are told is is by the milk, we’ll immediately say, “I guess that makes sense. Hey before you go, just where is the milk?” Then after being led to the milk, we’ll ask for one more thing. “Before you go, what about those curly, twirly cheese puffs? You are out of them in the aisle. Do you think have any in the back room?” I swear, it happens.


Yesterday, while running the dust mop over a the floor I noticed a couple of things. First of all, the guys who were in the store we in a hurry and generally not at all happy about being there – especially if they were tagging along with their significant others. Some them were strategically attempting to hurry the process but to little avail. However, the men noticed when I approached with the mop and stepped out of the way. Most of the time they alerted the female with whom they were shopping and briefly she emerged from the fog of buying decisions to move just enough to allow me to pass.

The women who were unaccompanied generally continued to block the aisle obvious to anything else but their pondering whether to risk buying the brand of cat food that was on sale for darling fluff ball even though she has always preferred the more expensive brand that never seems to be on sale whenever the pantry shelf is bare. I had to ask that lady to excuse me and even then I’m not sure she even knew why she was moving.

Then there was the lady in bread aisle with two shopping baskets, one of her oldest kids was helping push the second. Her attention was completely focused on which specific loafs were on the weekly BOGO. Even after saying excuse me twice she didn’t move, so I swept around her as if she were a store fixture.


What raced into my mind at that point was a profound revelation on the differences in our genders when it comes to shopping. Just as men are often accused to having selective perception, ignoring everything else but whatever we are focused on whether it is work, watching on TV or checking out something on the Internet, women are exactly the same way when it comes to shopping. I don’t think I said excuse me even once to any guy as I navigated the aisles with my trusty dust mop that was as wide as half the aisle. But I can guarantee it was only by accident that any women got out of my way before I was within three feet and said, “Excuse me, let me just sweep around you there.”

#groceries #shopping #men #women #GenderSpecificBehavior #retail #humor