When shopping for cucumbers in NYC got strange

Going to the grocery store for organic cucumbers should be boring.

But this time was different.

After grabbing my perfectly grown, locally sourced, and humanely treated organic cucumbers, I walked up to the checkout line. I gently laid down my produce like newborn baby, and the cashier and I shared a sliver of small talk as he rang me up. “That’s it?” he asked matter of factly.

“Yup,” I said, taking out my case-less iPhone to pay.

The cashier’s eyes seem to brighten and said, “Oh, that’s a beautiful case. That’s a case, right?”

“No, it doesn’t have a case,” I said with a confused look on my face.

The payment was processing, and I held my phone above the small counter between the cashier and me, looking at some notifications on my screen.

“That’s a beautiful case,” he repeated and reached for my phone.

“It doesn’t have one,” I said, pulling it just out of his reach.

He tried to pet my phone again. Up and down, his fingers went, as they stretched toward my device.

Pulling away, I looked at him, baffled.

The payment processed, and he handed me my receipt.

“Have a good one,” I said and quickly turned for the door.

Walking out the door into the fresh New York spring air, I breathed a sigh of relief having escaped only shaken but still standing.

As I walked home, I started thinking to myself, “When did my phone become like a limb or a private part that I couldn’t let a stranger touch it?” Then I thought, “What dude tries to touch a customer’s phone while working as a cashier?”

Only in New York City…


  1. I have the same aversion. if I’m showing someone a picture on my phone, or taking someone’s number and they reach for my phone, I sense a flicker of protective adrenaline seep into my veins. “Fight or flight!!!”, it screams, or at least, “pull the phone away!!”.

    For me, it started when I heard that people’s cell phones contain higher levels of fecal bacteria than a toilet. And it’s not that I was suddenly worried that someone might become violently ill from touching my possibly-filthy phone…oh, no. It was a sudden awareness of how infrequently people must wash their hands for such a statistic to exist.

    You’re a very good writer, John Pa! 🙂


    1. John Pa says:

      Ha! Yes, guard you phone with your lives. Thank you for reading and your kind words. I appreciate you, Kitttredge


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