It is said, according to some random website where I dug this fact up from, that the earliest classification system began with Aristotle in the 4th Century B.C. to group “organisms as to whether they were beneficial or harmful.” Super helpful when you’re out scouting the countryside for salad toppings and need to know which variety of mushrooms will kill you. (Or send you into hallucinations, if that’s your thing.)
It’s also applicable to the 21st Century where, maybe intentionally or subconsciously, we continue to group organisms into beneficial or harmful categories. And by organisms, I’m referring to people.
This classification system is quite simple and is best described in the context of a public place. For this example, we’ll use Wal-Mart. Any big box grocery store will do, but the best stories tend to spring from the aisles of Wally World.
There are two types of people.
Meet people. People are people who are aware of their surroundings and the effect they have on others sharing their breathing space. PEOPLE (in all caps, because that’s how I’m saying it in my head) are people who are either totally unaware of everything or simply don’t care.
People have family reunions at parks with cookouts and covered dishes and happy kids frolicking on the playground. PEOPLE have family reunions in the middle of the aisles with all their carts and bodies blocking everything I need from my shopping list.
People load all their items onto the conveyor belt, then retrieve their method of payment from their purse immediately after so it’s ready to hand to the cashier. PEOPLE load all their items onto the conveyor belt, then wait idly until the cashier has scanned and loaded everything into bags…then act surprised when given the total (like this is the first time they’ve been expected to pay) and begin the search for their method of payment (probably a checkbook) hidden somewhere in the depths of a giant handbag.
People are in the same store as you and you will cross paths with them approximately 0-2 times. PEOPLE are in the same store as you and are always, always, always right exactly where you need to be, and you start to think that maybe they’ve made a copy of your shopping list.
People return their shopping carts when finished. PEOPLE leave their shopping carts two spaces down from the cart rack for WHO KNOWS WHAT REASON IT’S FIVE MORE STEPS.
People wait to discuss their very personal matters until they are somewhere that’s NOT the middle of Wal-mart. PEOPLE have loud and excited one-sided conversations on their phones discussing all the sordid details of who slept with who and the weird looking rash they found in the shower yesterday. (True story.)
PEOPLE are the reason the #Ican’tEven is so popular. PEOPLE are the reason Amazon is so successful.
Is this too harsh?
Before you start thinking I’m some monster, let me assure you that, generally speaking, I like people. I enjoy the inevitable “they need stoplights in this place” joke whenever two shopping carts nearly collide. I like bonding with the other dog-lovers and cat-ladies in the pet food aisle. I don’t even cringe when the random stranger strikes up a conversation in the checkout line. And for someone who is 75% introverted, this is saying a lot.
But the PEOPLE. Oh, the PEOPLE. Sometimes it’s too much, and they seem to outnumber the people 10 to 1. And all you can think about is weaving your way through the crowds with your giant bag of birdseed over one arm and your wallet in the other and finding the shortest line and paying as quickly as possible and promising yourself that it’s Amazon or nothing from this moment on.
[Just as an aside, this oddly specific example could be anyone.]
[And to answer your question, yes I spend more money on birdseed per month than clothing.]
But back to the subject at hand. How do you cope? How do you deal? Am I just wound up way too tight? Are you sitting there thinking, Geez Jenny, just chill already? Are my essential oil friends recommending that I bathe in Stress Away beforehand? Is there some other sort of antiPEOPLE blend I’m not aware of? (And if so, I’ll take 30 bottles.)
Despite all of my grumblings and complaints and the fact that I’m silently grouping everyone into the People vs. PEOPLE categories, deep down I’m glad there are such odd, interesting, and sometimes ridiculous humans out there. PEOPLE make excellent fodder for conversation starters, cocktail party anecdotes, and struggling bloggers searching for subject matter.
Without them, I’d be writing another story about my cats. Without them, we’d feel like we’re living in North Korea. (You know no one is NOT returning a cart under Kim Jong-un.) Without them, trips to the store would be peaceful, uneventful, and boring excursions where the only things we returned with would be paper towels and shaving cream and not the latest dirt on the boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s STD scare.
I’m glad for PEOPLE. Which makes me even more glad for people.
I just wish there was some way to even up that 10 to 1 ratio.