A Redditor Is Probably Spying On Your Grocery Cart. Here's Why

"I always feel like somebody's watchin' me." That refrain from Rockwell's 1984 song about paranoia (featuring Michael Jackson on backing vocals) could apparently apply to a recent Reddit r/Cooking thread about curious people eyeballing the contents of other supermarket shoppers' carts.

The conversation starter asks whether other people try to figure out in their heads what a person is going to cook based on their grocery purchases, particularly when the cart has a head-scratching list of items. A user called Frexulife recalled once observing a man buying five bottles of vodka, over 20 pounds of sugar, and 20 bags of rye bread. Cracking the recipe code has kept them up at night. "I still can't sleep trying to solve the mystery," they mused. User 1niquity weighed in with this witty retort: "Vodka sandwiches, obviously."

Low-Stick6746 says assessing people's carts and imagining each individual's or family's unique culinary odyssey is commonplace for them. "I look in people's carts and totally make up their lives in my head. 'Oh, this guy's a bachelor. They're having a family reunion or backyard bbq.' And I try to figure out what they're going to make and such."

A number of former and current grocery store employees chimed in and admitted that one of their joys involved asking about or contemplating what people are making or planning with their purchases.

Grocery cart anxiety

All of this covert cart watching has some Redditors feeling anxious. Chickadee Cheese shared; "I used to have so much anxiety about grocery shopping and thought everyone was judging my purchases. I'd plan out buying things from different stores so the combo wouldn't seem weird or god forbid I get a question." They thought they had moved beyond those concerns with age, but the Reddit thread had them expressing doubts again.

TheRealEleanor called the grocery spying "The equivalent to people being scared to go to the gym because they 'know' people are watching them and everyone is claiming 'No one is watching you?' But they actually are watching you." 

Whatever_Major697 pithily described it as "Culinary voyeurism."

User What'sHupp tried to clarify the matter and reassure those Redditors who perceive this behavior as judgmental or mean-spirited. "Don't confuse curiosity for judgment. Plenty of people can indulge in the former without turning into the latter. As for those who can't, well, their opinions are not worth your time."

A fitting message. Life is stressful enough without having to worry about what others think about your supermarket impulse buys. You do you, and buy whatever makes you happy. If someone else doesn't approve of it, that's their problem.