There are days—too many, if you’re asking my opinion—when I have run out of some food item or other, and I have to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work. Grapes come to mind, for instance. Or milk.
So the other day, I was on my way into the store in somewhat of a rush. Someone had planted one of those “Gotcha!” displays right as you’re walking from the door to the food aisles, and you have to walk right by it because the cash registers prevent you from walking a different way. The “Gotcha!” displays are there to grab your attention and convince you to buy something you absolutely don’t need and didn’t intend to buy when you walked in the door.
On this particular day, I discovered that M&Ms had three new flavors, and the display urged customers to buy all three and vote on their favorite. But what caught my attention was the bright pink bag. New M&Ms? In a bright pink bag? What flavor could they be…?
And like a magnet, the colorful display pulled me off my very focused task of buying Oreos (because those are healthy), grapes, and strawberries. I stood examining the bag, the flavor (raspberry crunch), and anticipating how that flavor might taste for just a split second too long.
“Ma’am, you don’t need any of those,” I heard from behind me. I turned to see a man, a complete stranger, leaning on his cart, waiting to get by my distracted self. I considered this interruption, and I smiled.
“Thank you,” I said. “You are absolutely right. I do not need those. I was trying to figure out what flavor they were.
“Those crunch things? My wife eats those all the time.”
And for a split second, I wanted to say, Oh, your wife needs them, but I don’t? But I didn’t because this man had just saved me from hundreds of unnecessary calories.
“Have a nice day!” I said instead. “And thanks again. Because I really didn’t need those!” I took my basket and walked away smiling.
Someday, I thought, I am going to master the art of interference so I, too, can thwart someone’s encounter with the “Gotcha!” display.