Confronting the pain of humanity at the grocery store

Went for a walk to the beach today, because hey, I can. Stopped at Foodland on the way home for bananas. I don’t know how many times I have stopped at this Foodland and noticed something troubling. There are a number of young women who work as cashiers, who have bandages on their wrists and forearms. The young woman who checked me out today was sporting one of those sleeves that go from bicep to wrist on her left arm and scars on her right. She seemed down. Mostly they all do. The last time I came in I was checked by a girl with gauze on her wrist, not quite covering the crosshatching of scratches that were partly healed.

I know as well as anyone that retail work can be soul killing, and I make a point of trying to be a positive moment when I can. The world has no shortage of ways to traumatize women and girls. There is more than enough pain to go around. I smile warmly and chat when I see these girls, but it seems like a cop out, like the minimum possible action. Our society is so fragmented that genuine, non-shallow interaction with strangers seems awkward for most of us. I don’t have that personality where I can make friends with anyone easily and naturally. When I worked retail I was skeptical and uncomfortable of customers who seemed to want to get to know me, there are too many creepy and/or boundary challenged people out there. Aside from that, the pain of strangers is intimidating; emotionally, its hard to get involved.

Aside from that, I had started this post reflecting on the pain of others and ended up thinking more about myself and my own experiences. You cannot fix a problem without recognizing your own contribution to it, I guess.

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2 Responses to Confronting the pain of humanity at the grocery store

  1. Hmm. im curious. At first i though you were talking about carpal tunnel. What do you think these bandages are about and so prolific?

    • I rewrote and cut out a lot of what I originally wrote for that post, but I have no doubt that these women are cutting themselves. Cutting is not rare, from my experience, it is prolific. What intrigues me here is that there is little done to hide it. Not that it should be hidden or shameful, I am not entirely sure why that part intrigues me, only that they are secure enough not to hide it, but still have enough self hate to do this to themselves in the first place. And what is the responsibility of a compassionate but occasionally shy/awkward person to do for these girls?

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