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Learning to take my blinders off

January 15, 2010

Sociophobes would have a hard time at Scottsbluff grocery stores.

One evening, on my first visit to Scottsbluff back in June, I got in line in the single open checkout lane at the grocery store. I just had a few items, and the woman in line ahead of me motioned for me to go ahead of her. I thanked her, and then got to talking with her (she turned out to be from Hawaii). I didn’t think too much of her loquaciousness at the time, but I’ve come to learn that this openness with strangers is more the norm around here.

Another visit to the grocery store: just as I turned into the canned food aisle, a man exclaimed “YES!”, noticed I was there, and got a little sheepish. He explained that he was looking for cannellini beans to make a special lamb dish for his family. He was from Omaha, and didn’t think he’d be able to find cannellini out here in the boonies. (But, sir, these here boonies are part of the dry edible bean empire of these United States!) We got into an extended conversation, which included directions on the fastest way to get to the Denver airport.

And then there’s the laundromat. What better place to get into conversations with people, when you’ve got nothing to do for an hour or so but babysit clothes? On my last visit, a gentleman whose dress I will describe as “biker cowboy” helped me carry my clothes out to the car. We talked for awhile. Turns out he’s a rancher, moved here from Colorado.

I’ve become accustomed to going about my daily business with blinders on, not paying any more attention to the people around me than is necessary to get by. Now I’ve got to learn to be a little more open and prepared for interpersonal communication at any moment I’m out in public. I suppose this is a little taste of what celebrities go through when they’re out and about (though without the paparazzi).

Text copyright 2010 by Katie Bradshaw. Images in composite: credit to mzacha and Bubbels at

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