Friday, October 16, 2009

Off Topic Grocery Store Moment

I was at the checkout counter of the grocery store yesterday--the express checkout, where they sell cigarettes. A young man was standing by the side of the checkout counter, and the person working the cash register, who knew the young man, asked him if he wanted something. He said that he didn't know. She asked him if he was there to buy cigarettes. The woman at the cash register suggested that he shouldn't buy cigarettes because he shouldn't smoke. The young man told the woman that he just wanted to buy them, not smoke them. He just turned 18, and could legally buy cigarettes. He said that he would just give them away. The woman mentioned that she was wary because he could give them to a minor. I chimed in. I couldn't help it.

ME: If you're 18 you should register to vote.

HE: I'm going there next.

ME: (to the cash register woman) You should tell him that now that he is 18 he is an adult, and that a responsible adult decision is not to smoke. (to the young man) Don't waste your money.

He stormed out of the store. The woman behind the cash register told me that he was mad at her, but she seemed grateful to have some support from the "outside world" (the young man was a store employee). I somehow doubt that he was on his way to the courthouse to register to vote, but it would be nice to think the the idea might have crossed his mind.


Anonymous said...

"You should" is an odd phrase. In a music appreciation class, "you should" listen to classical music was pushed back with "well, YOU should listen to rap and hip-hop." Sometimes "you should" too easily generates its opposite because people often resent being told what to do.

Anonymous said...

Granville Bantock smoked a pipe.

Crayons said...

Hi Elaine,

Usually I'm right with you, but in this case I'll turn to Miss Manners. What one has in one's shopping cart is one's own business.

I would be irritated if someone told me that I shouldn't buy a Ben & Jerry's since I'm rather roundish. I also wouldn't like it if someone urged me, because I am 50, to get my hair dyed.

I'm glad that you were concerned. I also think boundaries exist for a reason. Or maybe I missed the point of your story....

Elaine Fine said...

Perhaps I did overstep. But it really bothers me that part of the "coming of age" experience in this culture is to be able to buy a previously forbidden product. People can do what they want to do, but I would advise a young person not to waste money on buying cigarettes because he can. In my defense, the only thing I said to the young man was "don't waste your money." The rest of the conversation was directed towards the woman behind the cash register, who really seemed to appreciate my help at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Freedom is a funny thing; if one is willing to deny it in a small way to others and others also learn it is permissible to deny freedom in some small way to you. Repeat as needed.