Why Do People Follow Me Throughout the Grocery Store?

Explore the charm and wonder of encountering the same stranger in different aisles.

Michael Boyd
4 min readSep 12
Elderly lady carefully selecting fresh fruits in the grocery store’s produce section
Decades of wisdom meets the art of choosing the perfect berries. Photo by Beth Macdonald on Unsplash

Navigating the world of a bustling grocery store is a lot like navigating the complexities of the human psyche: fraught with confusion, peppered with inexplicable moments, and layered with those “What the hell?” contemplations. Basket in hand, I’ve embarked on countless food quests, but none so baffling as the dance of shadow shoppers in aisle five.

I’ve noticed, as I’m sure many of you have, this curious choreography. It’s that strange ballet that unfolds when you and a fellow shopper, a complete stranger, can’t seem to escape one another. Every time I reach for a loaf of rye bread, there’s someone reaching with me. When I’m contemplatively staring at the array of mustards, suddenly, we’re both in deep, mustard-related thought.

So, why, in the vast expanse of shelves, tiles, and overhead Muzak, does this shared experience seem to occur? Allow me to postulate a few theories:

  • The Synchronized List Theory: It’s possible that our shopping lists, though crafted in the privacy of our homes, aren’t so unique after all. Perhaps we’re all creatures of habit, predictable in our needs and whims. You need butter, so do I. You want that fancy dark chocolate with sea salt? Hell, it’s Tuesday; I deserve it too.
  • Pacing Parallels: Have you ever noticed that everyone in the grocery store seems to have two speeds? There’s the ‘I’m in no hurry, let’s dawdle and read every label’ pace and the ‘Oh God, I forgot the pasta, and dinner’s in an hour!’ sprint. Maybe, just maybe, you and your aisle companion are inadvertently marching to the same grocery store drumbeat.
  • Grocery Store Gaze Theory: We humans, in all our sophisticated glory, are still hardwired with a primitive curiosity. We can’t help but watch. So, when someone lingers a bit too long over the aged gouda, it’s almost instinctual to wonder, “What’s so special about that cheese?”
  • The Matrix Glitch: Ever feel like you’re living in a repetitive loop? That moment when you see the same person by the tomatoes, then the cereal, and again by the frozen…



Michael Boyd

Co-owner of Battle Born Grooming Co., sharing my insights on entrepreneurship, personal growth, and fighting against Goliaths. https://battleborngrooming.com