Gossip at the check-out line

I was in the supermarket shopping for another week’s groceries and my cart was very full. A woman standing at a counter saw me looking at the fish and she said “Mister, the fish doesn’t look fresh. I wouldn’t buy it if I were you”. I looked at the fish and I thanked her for the advice.

Proceeding to check-out I was amazed at the long lines at all four counters. I looked for the smallest line and counted seven people standing before me. I estimated it would take about 20 minutes to check-out and was not concerned that the frozen broccoli and the cottage cheese would spoil in that time.

Two women standing before me were chattering without a stop. One asked the other where she had been since she had not seen her for a long while. The other replied that she had been in Florida for one month visiting her sister-in-law who lived together with her grandson who was studying at the University of Miami in Coral Gables.

I had never been there but I was learning much from their conversation. The woman who came home from Florida was telling her friend about what she had seen, heard and done during her month in what she said was the Sunshine State.

She shared a story her sister-in-law had told her about a neighbor whose daughter was deserted by her husband some few years ago, abandoning two young daughters. He refused to pay child support for his children and when his wife filed a complaint he fled the country.

The sister-in-law thought that he had gone to South America to avoid arrest but later she said he went to Israel, re-married, probably has more children and has still refused to pay child support for his American children.

She said he could never return to America because he would be arrested on arrival. At that moment I had to clear my throat and the loud sound appeared to both women that I was anxious for them to move down the line. I apologized and said that the line was moving slowly, but eventually I would reach the cashier.

The woman telling the story to her friend obviously knew that I had heard the details and she turned to me and asked me what I thought about the situation. She said that if the husband is now in Israel, why can’t the police arrest him and return him to the USA.

Not really wanting to get involved in the story which did not concern me and not wanting to be a participant in supermarket gossip I replied that since the man had not committed any crime in Israel, why would the Israeli police extradite him. I also had to add that I found holes in the story and could not really believe that any Jewish father would abandon his children or refuse to provide for their care.

But she continued, “that’s what my sister-in-law told me and since she is acquainted with the mother of the deserted wife, she believes it to be true.”

With that, I shrugged my shoulders and kept quiet.

I guess that supermarket gossip is popular while waiting in a long line. For me, here were two yentas chattering about someone that they did not know and joining in the suggestion to have the Israeli police arrest him and deport him.

Why people cannot mind their own business never fails to bother me. I believe in the adage “live and let live”. With all the problems facing us why do we get involved with problems of other people… people we do not know and have never met?

In all events, I made it to the check-out cashier. My broccoli was still frozen and I assume my cottage cheese was still fresh. Although, if cottage cheese had ears, listening to the gossiping woman would have turned it sour.

I think I’ll have to find a “men only” supermarket in the near future.

Men, at least, do not gossip !!!

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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