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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)

TITLE: Shopping in Dixie
By Venice Kichura


“I could never live in the south, “my friend Mariah told me last fall just before we moved to our new southern home. “When I go shopping I’m on a mission. I want to get in and get out---not talk to everyone there.”

Here was Mariah, warning me about overly friendly shoppers. Yet she was the friendliest woman I’d met when we first moved up north eight years ago.

I thought back to how I’d introduced myself to the local storekeepers then. “Hello, I’ve just moved here from Florida….,” I’d announced, trying to break into my new community. They’d half-gazed up at me, probably wondering, Okay, lady, and so you’re new here. …?

Yet I’d grown up in Texas, another friendly area. Back then I couldn’t go shopping anywhere without hearing someone’s life story, even getting on an elevator. I thought, again…Do I really want to chit-chat with strangers every time I shop? I may never get out of the store, I’d become more reserved, not used to strangers talking to me.

And now that I’ve been in the south for almost two months, I have to admit Mariah was right. I don’t think I’ve made one trip to any store without someone starting a conversation. Just yesterday I went to our local Super Wal-Mart to return a toaster, explaining to a store clerk how my newly retired husband had taken over the kitchen, thinking we needed a new one. She just laughed and said, “Honey, I threw my man out of the kitchen years ago. Hey, you’re new here, aren’t ya? Where ‘ya from….?”

Then as I pushed on to the frozen goods aisle a young mother with an infant walked from behind me blurting, “Can I tell ‘ya a little secret?”

I jumped backwards, grabbing my purse from my cart.

“This brand’s not only cheaper, but less calories,” she shared, picking up a box of low-fat ice-cream bars.

“Okay, thanks ….I’ll try it.” I relaxed, learning how she’d recently lost her baby fat on a low-fat diet.

Heading for the crafts department, another stranger approached me with a ball of baby pink yarn. She stroked it against my arm as I (again) bolted backwards. “Just feel how soft!” She exclaimed. “You’ve gotta try this, honey. I crocheted an afghan with this for my little grandbaby and she drags it with her everwhar…”

“Okay,” I said, calming down……”Thanks.” Then the woman noted my Texas Longhorns sweatshirt and before parting, we learned we’d grown up only two towns from each other. We also shared the same love for Texas barbecue and Tunisian crochet. And, I learned a new trick for keeping my yarn untangled. As I pushed my cart over to the toy section to find a birthday gift for my grandson, I met another woman who bragged how she’d just became a grandma, pulling out a wallet full of pictures. “Ya know they’re running a special on double prints today,” she said, pointing to the camera department.

I finally made it to the checkout stand (almost two hours later). The checker discovered I was new to the area and flashed another warm southern smile. ”Welcome to our town! Do ya know your way around the store yet?”

“Oh yes,” I replied, thinking of all my newfound shopping buddies.

Meanwhile, just as I’m about to leave, the woman behind me noted, “You’ve got your army boots on, girl. You with the military college down the road?”

“No way.....,” I laughed …”Just a Grandma….We’ve just retired, moved from up north. Guess I’m still used to wearing these old cloggers ‘til the snow melts…”

“Well that won’t be long, sweetie,” she says, adding, her name was Peggy.

“We’re newly retired; too…We’ll have to get together and knit,” she added, eyeing my yarn.

As we walked out of the store together we discovered we also love quilting as well as the same sandwich shop at the local town square. And I was also pleasantly surprised to see the snow was already melting.

I thought back to eight years ago and how it took me at least three years to finally find a handful of close-knit friends, thanking God for my new home in Dixie. So what if shopping can sometimes be an all-day event? Hey, I’m retired.

“Yeah, Mariah, you were right, “I emailed my old friend up north later that day. “Shopping is different here in Dixie ----truly a social event.”

“….. And I love it. “

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This article has been read 1035 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Linda Watson Owen03/08/07
Oh, what a heart-warming read! And yes, you're so right about shopping in Dixie! LOL! I just received a recipe in the mail from a new 'friend' I met in much the same way the other day. : ) I really like this endearing story...can you tell?! LOL
Leigh MacKelvey03/10/07
I talk about the difference in the south and the north to everyone! Growing up in N.C. I was accustomed to the slow pace and the grocery stores and shops. Hey, they even bag and carry out your groceries! This really was enjoyable to me as I so easily related to the story. Well written and I can attest to the truth you so skillfully wrote about the MC
getting used to the unfriendly cashiers and the
need for privacy and a faster pace once you've move away from Dixie. It's a sad thing, isn't it?
Joanne Sher 03/10/07
Just delightful! I so enjoyed taking this trip through the store with you - I wish it were like that here! Great details.
Jacquelyn Horne03/12/07
Good story. Loved the conversations. Well done.
Jan Ackerson 03/12/07
This is SO well-written, and I cringed with every word--I would HATE that! I don't think I'd ever get used to it, like your narrator did. Great job--you grabbed me and wouldn't let go.
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/13/07
I really enjoyed this. It's so true! I love shopping in the South. You created the picture of just exactly how it is!