sounds wacko, right? let me put it another way...
since January, I've been paying people to teach me how to fight like my life is on the line. (☚ much better, a less wacko vibe.) (sorta.)
it's called Krav Maga, the Israeli Defense Forces fighting style. because of this training, I've learned some pretty cool (like, killer cool) skills in weight lifting, endurance, disarming weapons and how to inflict brutal, quick-fire pain.
this training has changed me physically and mentally, and as it turns out, has impacted my Meijer, the superstore, experience.
fun fact--I've always been a good "walker." my mother taught me how to properly walk in heels: shoulders/hips aligned to create balance, medium-length stride (short strides are halting, long strides are ridiculous) and walk with confidence. I got so good that I can run in heels on sand, gravel or cobblestone streets with nary a twisted ankle.
now that I'm into month 9 of KM, I've learned new walking tips: be aware, look people in the eye, don't carry a purse (purses are robber magnets), and my favorite, look strong. accordingly, my walking style has a new characteristic--"strong." and during my last Meijer visit, I discovered that some people have taken note...
I went home after my workout, got ready for the day (t-shirt, jeans and my favorite leather half-boots with a 2.5 inch heels), and left the house for a quick Meijer stop.
I only needed three items, no need for a cart, but they were items that hit three different areas in the superstore: grocery (extra lean ground beef), toiletries (black nitrile exam gloves--not a fan of cleaning raw meat out of my fingernails) and outdoor (charcoal); grill night!
I knew something was up the moment the sliding doors whooshed open. I removed my sunglasses and noted that this time, Greeter Lady was Greeter Man--and in my strong, confident, balanced manner, I walked inside the superstore.
GMan began his memorized greeting, then stopped, turned sideways and lowered his eyes, as if I were royalty, come to see how the commoners shop.
"that was weird," I mutter to myself, very unroyal like.
I medium-stride through produce, the clutch of grape-
I'm walking through the Maze of Carb Tables (bakery department) and note that Mr. Meat Packing man is unloading his seven foot tall trolley. He eyes me, realizes I'm headed his way, and fumble-rushes to pull the cart from my line of path.
same scenarios across the store as I make my way to toiletries for exam gloves, hunched elderly with cane picks up the pace as I approach--nearly breathless from the exertion. pairs of eyes avert as I attempt to make eye contact.
"am I really that intimidating?" I ratchet my strong walk stride down a notch to relaxed.
with the next person who sidesteps to get out of my way, I try to make doe-eye contact with a cute (non-aggressive) smile; a desperate attempt to convey the reality that I'm a nice person for crying out loud! what is going on with you blankety-blank Meijer crazies?!
with meat and gloves in one hand and a large lumpy bag of charcoal in the other, I head for the u-scans at the front of the store.
I notice three Muslim women, wearing niqabs, walking towards me. (nothing unusual about this. c'est la vie here in Michigan. we have dozens of thriving international communities--Polish, Chinese, Syrian, Indian, Korean, Saudi, Japanese, French, Iraqi, Mexican, Israeli, Russian...to name a few. makes for some great food festivals!)
as I got closer, I was determined to prove to my fellow humans that I was a kind, compassionate-type human. I smile a sincere smile, just about to say, "hello" when they purposely w i d e - c i r c l e walk around me.
gonna be honest, I was crushed. I slowed my relaxed, non-intimidating walking pace and hung my head.
and that's when I saw it.
I wore one of my Krav Maga t-shirts, the ALL-CAPS letters written in English, and in Hebrew. in case you didn't click on the blue Krav Maga wikipedia hyper link above, the words, KRAV MAGA literally translate to: CONTACT COMBAT(!). it wasn't my balanced, confident, strong walk that was intimidating, it was my IDF/Mossad fighting-style t-shirt! #wardrobemalfunction
the faces of all the people I interacted with whizzed through my head-- all of them a mix of Middle Eastern heritage, hence a mix of awe and concern.
my ever quick/clever mind commands my arm to heft the bag of charcoal to my chest, carrying it like a baby to cover my t-shirt.
that imbalanced distribution of weight threw off my stride--pretty sure I looked more clumsy than balanced/confident/strong--but for the rest of my walk across the superstore I gave smiles and "hellos" and was soooo relieved to see that in return...
I was flatly ignored.