I was in the bread aisle of the local Stop & Shop last week when a woman stopped me and asked, "Why are you always running through this grocery store?"
"Excuse me?" I said.
"I always see you running through this store like you're on fire."
It's true. When I shop, I move fast, I wouldn't say that I run, but I am definitely moving faster than anyone around me.
The fact that this stranger was aware of my tendency was disconcerting. I am always telling people to stop worrying so much about their physical appearance because no one is ever looking at you as much as you think.
This woman's awareness of me and my shopping tendencies violated this belief.
"Well," I said. "I have a wife and two kids and blue sky and sun to get back to. The last place I want to be is inside this store. I'm in this store all the time. I've already seen this place. There are so many places I'd rather be. I'm just trying to get back to one of those places as quickly as possible."
The woman stared at me for a moment, as if considering my answer. Then she nodded and said, "Makes sense."
"So you're going to start running through the grocery store, too?" I was thrilled that I had found my first convert.
"No," she said. "You're a nut."
She said this affectionately, but I could tell that she also meant it. She was willing to acknowledge that I had good reason to be moving quickly enough, consistently enough through the Stop & Shop to be noticed by a stranger, but she also thought that I was at least a little crazy.
I don't think so.
The question I am most frequently asked is, "How do you find the time to get so much done?" I am asked this question at least five times as often as any other question that I am asked, and I have a multitude of answers.
But one of them would be this:
When forced to do something that takes me away from the things I love most, I try to do that thing as quickly as possible.
So I run through grocery stores.
I run through grocery stores because I have a wife and two kids and sunshine and blue sky waiting for me. Also books to write. Stories to tell. Students to teach. Weddings to DJ. Books to read. Treadmills and golf courses to traverse.
I have a multitude of things to do that are better than buying bread, so I buy that bread as quickly as possible.
This seems like the most sane decision anyone could make.