Wednesday, November 17, 2010

If I Worked in a Grocery Store...Poem #232

Students - every time I go to the grocery store, I look at other people's groceries.  This is a nosy habit.  When I stand in line, placing my own items on the conveyor belt, I wonder about the people ahead of me and behind me in line:  Does he live alone?  Why is that lady buying ten bottles of ginger ale?  I wonder who has a cough?  How did they get so healthy?  What kind of party is that family having?  Who is the rose for?

When she was a high school student, my former student, friend, and wonderful writer, Heather, worked at a grocery store.  I remember asking her if she thought about the different people and what they bought.  She said she did.  The other day, I asked the lady who checked my groceries if she wonders about the shoppers and their different assortments of food.  She said she didn't.  

This is something I've thought about for years and think about weekly, each time I shop, just imagining about the people around me each day.  Such wonderings, got me started on this poem.  I took one wondering and then asked, What if?  (What if I worked in a grocery store?) What do you frequently wonder about? What might you turn into a What if?  Do you have any embarrassing nosy habits that you could write about?

On a similar note, one book I have loved for years (and just repurchased used since it is sadly out-of-print) is Dale Gottlieb's MY STORIES BY HILDY CALPURNIA ROSE.  Each page is a different story, written by Hildy, about her neighbors.  I have to wonder if this book didn't inspire my poem a wee bit.

(Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.)


  1. Everywhere I go I wonder what people were doing just 5 minutes before. It's always been a bit of a game with myself. I walk into Starbucks, and instead of getting mad about the person tapping their foot behind me in line about the slowness, I wonder if they are on a 15 minute break from a business meeting, and its a 5 minute walk back. I walk into my classroom, and my professor looks disheveled. Did they just have a meeting with a student who just couldn't understand Dante's Inferno?

    Amy, I love your little tips for teaching students writing and poems. I just wish my elementary school teachers had some of these tips! I will definitely remember them!

    -Julie Batelli

  2. Amy,

    Gotta tell you - I love the bit about the cats "he's lonely and he's not." Beautiful. We have six, and if it wasn't for me, my wife says she would turn into that guy - lonely and not.

    As for nosy habits - My name is Bill, and I'm a recovering medicine cabinet snoop.

  3. Julie, Your note cracked me up! This is why you are such a wonderful are always thinking about the trials of others, always understanding! Thank you so much for your note. It makes me miss you! We all miss you.
    Bill, I love that you guys have six cats. And I will clean out the medicine cabinet before your family visits. Thank you for the heads up. (I really thought that yesterday was going to be the day!)

  4. Hi Amy,
    I love this poem and your thoughts that support it. The place that I find myself wondering and making up little stories is at the airport. Something about the sights - the rushing, the waiting, the hellos and goodbyes that get my mind reeling.

    As I share the advice of writing mentors like yourself, one thing we talk about in class is how to live like a writer with your eyes, ears, and heart wide open. You are a model of this. Your writing has been such a gift this year. What will we do after Poem #365?

    Enjoy your trip!

  5. I also am a I saw a couple of people filling their carts with hot dogs, buns, bbq sauce...wondered what kind of alternate universe they were in!! wondered how I could get invited there to share....

    ncte has to be so amazing...I just love their journal, on the rare occasions I read it!