I was in Target last night by myself (a rarity--not that I was in Target, but that I was there by myself). Going at night is such a different experience than going during the day. During the day, I usually run into many other moms with kids doing the same thing I'm doing: buying the 24-roll pack of toilet paper and a kid's birthday present for an upcoming party. At night there is a much different crowd--more college and young professionals. If I had had the time and stomach for it, I'd park myself in the snack bar with whatever they sell there as food, and people watch. But I was on a mission and I tried to stay focused. I had toilet paper to buy and Ellie turns four on Thursday. My people watching skills was reduced to eavesdropping due to EVERYONE talking on their cell phones. It was not just two or three people using their phones but rather, just two or three of us NOT using them. Perusing through the dollar spot, I caught part of a conversation of a woman telling someone on the other line, under no circumstances, to pay "her" (whoever they may be) what she wants. "Like she's worth $68,000," she said sarcastically as she dug through $1.00 candy packaged in tiny little tin lunch boxes. I found myself wondering who "she" was and why $68k and not $65,000 or an even $70,000? I used to be a recruiter and my old negotiating self kicked in: why wasn't she worth it? Could a little polish and better presentation get her top dollar?
I moved on to plasticware to look for buckets (by the way they are only $1.49, so I bought two--who couldn't use another bucket? And they are red!). As I was trying to figure out if the $1.49 price was a mistake, I noticed a man was standing beside me staring at the mops, deep in thought. I was intrigued and hung out to see where that was going to go. After a VERY long while, he picked one mop up and twirled it around slowly, kicking the tires, I guess, and then put it back and continued his studying stare. At mops. I left, to compare prices in the back-to-school section to see if I could get a shower caddy for cheaper than $1.49 (I'm crazy like that) and realized quickly that I couldn't (not even close--$5.99!) So I went back to get another cute red bucket. Mr. Decision was STILL standing there staring at mops! Oh come on now, I wanted to cry out. Then a guy in a very tight t-shirt begged his pardon and reached in front of me and Mr. Decision and grabbed a mop, without so much as glancing at the price and went on his way. Mr. Decision and I shared a now-who-does-he-think-HE-is side glance. I left that section pondering which guy I would recommend to a girlfriend to date. I was still arguing both sides when I came upon a very tall man in bedding with long white hair asking someone on the other line if they thought he was funny. What if they said no? He laughed loudly at their response, so I moved on.
It was in the gift wrap section that I became disheartened. There were two men unrolling a roll of vinyl gift wrap the width of two aisles. They tried to ask in their broken English if it was a table cloth. A very unfriendly, condescending employee, said without stopping what she was doing or making eye contact, no, and vaguely pointed them to the section where tablecloths were sold. They neatly rolled up the gift wrap and left. I looked at the roll once they had left and found that it would've worked fine for a bright table covering and at $2.99 you couldn't find a better deal (HGTV designers would've loved it). I'm only sorry I didn't seek them out to tell them so.
As I was finally making my way to check out, I got distracted by a sale on batteries. As I was trying to find a pack with less than 64 batteries in it, I overheard a guy say loudly, "I don't date teachers or secretaries". Oh, I have to see this jerk, I thought. I turned to find a skinny guy clad with jeans, t-shirt and a ball cap covering curly shoulder-length hair. He picked up a Duncan Hines cake mix as if to read the ingredients and said again but louder, "I don't date teachers or secretaries!" I saw him turn and glance around quickly as if hoping to have an audience. "I will date a mom, though, that's fine," he said, maybe trying to rectify himself? I rolled my eyes and then continued my battery search when he said, "yeah, have them call my publicist". Oh, the guy was a fraud. I glanced at him again, squeezing the bread loaves and turning to see if anyone was watching him, giving him the respect that he so desperately lacking in himself. Knowing there was no one on the other line of his phone, I looked at him less harshly. I pitied him. I thought about him the whole way home.
All the genuine humanity (or lack thereof) that I saw in Target last night, that guy's lack of feeling important struck me as the most humane. We all have felt that way, invisible, uninteresting, just not to the extreme he did. Or maybe we have. I will pray for him. It's hard to go to Target without coming out with more than you planned.