Give me some space

Like most women, I love shopping. I really do. Sometimes I find myself in a random supermarket or mall after a long day at work and I will gladly spend the next hour browsing through the aisles. I enjoy it even though sometimes, I leave empty-handed.

It was during one of my window-shopping jaunts that I “discovered” a nice shop with women’s accessories and when I asked about prices for various items, my eyes didn’t pop. I knew I’d return as soon as I got paid and I did go back.

For some reason, I felt something odd the minute I walked in. The ladies I had assumed owned it had been welcoming the first time and yet this time round, I found three men. It was broad daylight and so I wasn’t worried about getting kidnapped or anything but it still felt strange. I had also bought a snack earlier and one of the men gestured that I should leave it by the entrance.

Normally, I wouldn’t have had a problem with that since most shops and supermarkets require shoppers to leave any packages and large items at those storage areas anyway but it was the way he pointed, without even saying hello to me first. I didn’t want to argue so I placed my snack down. Then I noticed the same guy eyeing my bag.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I love big bags. They’re practical and mine usually has everything from my umbrella and flats to hand lotion and at least two hairbrushes - one that I use and a second for my female colleagues who never seem to carry their own! Over the years, I’ve noticed that big bags draw attention.

Pickpockets assume you have wads of cash in there while shop owners fear you might stuff things in there. I could be wrong but I could have sworn the three men at the shop I was visiting thought I was there to shoplift and frankly, I was offended.

Heading to the corner where I had seen some lingerie I liked, I immediately sensed that someone was walking behind me. I thought it was another shopper and looked over my shoulder just to make sure I wasn’t blocking anyone only to realise it was the same guy who had been rude earlier. He wasn’t standing behind me in a “Can I help you find something” kind of way. He was hovering.

Now anyone who has bought underwear knows how uncomfortable the process is. It’s not like you get to try it on and given that your regular retail shop is filled with products from various parts of the world where sizes and measurements vary, you just pick what you think will fit.

While making that decision, you need some privacy, not some guy standing right next to you as you sift through the stack. I was feeling so uncomfortable I almost walked out but then felt that if I did, they would say something after I left so I did the next best thing, picked out just one and walked back to the checkout counter where I felt even more uncomfortable because there were two guys staring at my sole purchase. I don’t think I’ll go back to that shop anytime soon.