Is it wrong to lie? How about a little white lie? A person who always tells the truth must be admired, but is it always the best decision? For a germophobe, perhaps not. Judge for yourself.
I was at the grocery store a few days ago, when I realized I had a problem, but it was too late to rectify it. I have written about my despisement of the lowly shopping cart at length. There seems to be no end to the ways it can make my life difficult. I place my purse in the child seat area of the shopping cart to keep it separate from the groceries, as that portion of the cart is nasty anyway because of the dirty little bottoms that sit there. This is a good system, but I have found a flaw with it. If I am not careful, a grocery item can brush against the bottom of the purse. This has happened with tall bottles, and that can be dealt with by simply classifying the bottles as dirty and handling them as such. But the contamination that occurred while in line at the store was more complicated.
I had put two apples in a plastic bag, and the bag was sitting on top of some other items. As I was taking out the groceries to put them on the counter I saw the top of the plastic bag move and brush against the bottom of my purse. This was very bad. If I had caught it before unloading part of the cart, I could have taken the apples back to the produce area and left them, but that wasn’t an option now. My actions became more deliberate as I tried to decide what to do with them. Maybe I could tell the clerk that I had changed my mind and no longer wanted them. Still, she would more than likely grab the bag by the contaminated top portion and spread the germs to the rest of my groceries. I didn’t see an alternative to putting them on the counter, so I did. I was so grateful when she grabbed the lower part of the bag! She wouldn’t spread the germs after all. My groceries were safe. But not quite.
The groceries still had to be loaded into paper shopping bags before going back in the cart. Here I saw another opportunity for cross-contamination. The clerk missed the dirty part of the apple bag the first time, but I couldn’t count on that happening again. My groceries were at risk once more, and if the germs spread to the rest of the apple bag, I wouldn’t be able to eat the apples at all. Thinking quickly, as a germophobe must, I grabbed the apples before the clerk could. As I lowered the bag of apples by themselves back into the cart, I said, “The bag has a hole, so I’m going to put it back in here.” What a clever excuse! Well, not really. In fact, it didn’t make any sense at all. The clerk probably thought to herself that, if the bag did have a hole, wouldn’t it be better to place it in a larger paper bag, so the apples would not fall out. But logic didn’t matter here; I needed to say something to explain my actions, and that’s what came out. Another way of looking at it is that I was merely stating a foregone conclusion, because the plastic bag very shortly would have a hole in it. When I got out to my car, I tore a hole in the side of the bag to rescue the apples.
As if shopping carts don’t give me enough grief, there has been a new development. During a recent rainstorm, I made the observation that seems to have escaped my notice all these years. The rain washes over the filthy child seat and drips down into the cart. It doesn’t contaminate the entire cart, just the area directly beneath it. Now I don’t like to put my groceries underneath the seat in the cart. I have to be more careful about how I arrange items in the cart. I try to put only things that don’t have to be kept super-clean in that area, but things slide around, so it’s not easy.
And so the struggle continues, with new developments and new challenges, but onward we trudge. And occasionally we need a little white lie to get us through.