Shopping Under a Gaze

By: Ashley Park

As I got out of the car, I quickly put on my face mask and walked right into the grocery store without making any eye contact. I swiftly grabbed a cart and wiped it down with the tissue I had brought from my own household. I then proceeded to do my shopping. It was only a few items I needed to bring back home, as my parents had already done most of the shopping to fill our pantry and garage with boxes of instant ramen and bottled water. 


I went down the list. I needed strawberries, grapes, chia seeds, Oreos, and a rotisserie chicken. I walked to the produce area and grabbed the strawberries and grapes. I also found the rotisserie chicken along the way. Then I went to the chips aisle and found everything else I needed.


As I headed to the line to pay for my items, I was given a glare by one of the shoppers as she walked past me. I put my head down and proceeded to the line. It wasn’t very long but I still had to wait about five minutes to reach the cashier. 


I went to the end of the line and noticed a lady with her shopping cart looking at gift cards. She didn’t have any masks or gloves on to protect herself from potentially getting the coronavirus even though the store strictly stated on a giant sign right outside the entrance that all shoppers had to wear a mask. She was casually looking at gift cards while leaving her cart in line to possibly save her spot as she quickly did some last minute shopping. 


“Miss, are you in line?” I asked.


“Yes,” she said abruptly with a rude attitude and a glare on her face. 


I shrugged it off and continued to wait behind her cart. As the line continued to move, she casually took her time to look at the gift cards, leaving a giant gap between her and the rest of the customers in front of her. I noticed that shoppers were cutting in front of her as they assumed that she wasn’t in line. 


“Miss, are you in line?” I asked again. 


“YES!” she exclaimed as she threw her gift cards in the cart and proceeded to catch up the line. 


I sighed as I continued to follow her. As she caught up with the other shoppers in line, she left her cart once again to go look at the plants on sale, leaving her cart in line to save her spot. I went on my phone trying to calm my annoyance. It took her exactly two minutes to come back with a plant before she decided to purposely cough on her hands while glaring at me. 


I felt disgusted. Who in their right mind would ever cough on their hands first of all during a time like this? Secondly, she had done it on purpose to show her disdain toward me, for looking the way I did. 


I continued to stare at her in amazement as she continued to find the lane with the least amount of people paying but was immediately yelled at by the store manager to wait at the front of the line until she called her to a lane to avoid contact with other people.


This experience made me realize that this pandemic has increased the entitlement and racism in our society. Although racism had always existed, this pandemic has dramatically changed the world’s perspective in the Asian community. Whether it be Chinese, Korean, or Japanese, society will never view the Asian community the same again as the outbreak first started at the heart of China.


Her glare and behavior continue to disturb me even now.