Situation #7: The Supermarket Run-In

23 05 2008

The situation: You’ve just gone out for a nice long run and although you feel great, you’re looking, well, like you’ve just gone for a nice long run. Still, you decide to pick up a few groceries on the way home. It is a fundamental law of nature that the number of people you will run in to at the grocery store is inversely proportional to how terrible you look. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see someone you know, so you may as well be prepared.

The solution: The grocery store is a gift to the socially awkward with its ready supply of conversation pieces. If you meet in the produce section tell your acquaintance what you’re making for dinner. They probably won’t ask you this, but trust us, they want to know. Caught in the frozen food section? Tell them how you’re too lazy to make dinner tonight. Spotted by the checkout? Make liberal use of the tabloids and magazines. Tell them about your favourite ice cream, or the strawberries that are on sale. The possibilities are endless.

The abundant conversational crutches in a grocery store are equally convenient when it comes time to end the conversation. “It was great running in to you. I’m going to head over to the deli/bakery/produce now. Take care.” Or a simple “I’ll let you get back to your shopping” will do as well.

One last piece of advice: Be prepared to meet the same person again in the aisles after your graceful exit. The post-goodbye meet up is a socially awkward situation deserving of it’s own post, but for now we’ll offer some quick tips to get you to the express checkout with class. Your best weapon against potential awkwardness is the Super Friendly Over Smile. Don’t be fake, just smile as if you’ve paid ten thousand dollars for a set porcelain veneers and want to get your money’s worth. Sometimes this is all you need. But it never hurts to be equipped with a ready supply of one-liners. Again, take full advantage of your surroundings. “Oh, I can never resist these cookies!” “Can you believe I just came in here for milk?!” (This is usually funnier if said while pointing to a cart full of groceries.) It is very important that you do not break your stride when you make these comments, as that creates the awkward possibility of stopping for further conversation. Make D.A. Pennebaker proud and don’t look back.

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