Distracted Walking

How I ended up walking into a sliding glass door in a supermarket is pretty simple. I got a text from my wife. I looked at my phone to read the message and, WHAM! Goodbye nasal cartilage.

I’m not surprised this happened, inasmuch as whenever I am at the supermarket I receive a lot of texts from my wife. My wife is one of those people who prefers to text me her supermarket list one item at a time. It’s unclear why she won’t give me the entire list at once. Maybe her list is a state secret. Maybe the grocery list is privileged information only known by those with security clearance.

Either way, I usually receive her fragmented supermarket list in the form of random neural firings, such as the following verbatim text: “we r out of non-iceberg.”

Truthfully, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure what “non-iceberg” was, but I figured it was a Coors product.

So once I have gathered all items on her list, I’ll be standing in the checkout line and—DING!—another text comes through. I often receive this text at the exact moment I am placing my non-iceberg items on the conveyor belt.

The text will read something like: “we r out of good toilet paper.”

At which point I will sheepishly apologize to the cashier and quietly ask to cancel my sale so that I can leave the checkout lane to locate what my wife needs.

But the cashier usually tells me, no, it’s okay, she doesn’t want to cancel my sale since she’s already scanned half my items, she says she’ll just wait for me to jog across the store and fetch the toilet paper. At which point everyone in line behind me collectively agrees to set fire to my car.

The cashier then flips on her blinking aisle light, signaling that there is a major problem in Checkout Lane Five. And she tells me to “hurry up.”

This puts a lot of pressure on me. I can feel the clock ticking. So I rush through the supermarket, sweating from exertion, and out of breath. No sooner have I arrived back at the checkout lane than my phone dings again. It’s a text from my wife reading: “Get 2 cases of Diet Coke.”

So this was the kind of shopping experience I’d had when I was leaving the store yesterday.

After checking out, I was exiting the building when a text came through. I was carrying my plastic bags and simultaneously reading my wife’s text when, SLAM! I ran into something hard.

If I would have seen what I had run into, I would have known that it was an automatic sliding door which had not opened all the way. But at the time the object felt like walking into the hull of the U.S.S. Iowa.

My nose suffered the brunt of the impact. I stumbled backward. I clutched my face and made a high-pitched sound often associated with felines in labor.

The store employees were concerned, of course. I could tell this by the helpful way they gathered around me and genuinely tried not to pee themselves.

“Omigod,” said one male employee, who was laughing so hard he was wheezing. “You just walked into the freaking door, man!”

“Are you okay?” said a teenage employee, wiping tears of concern from her eyes.

They helped me collect my scattered grocery items and escorted me out of the store. Later, when I inspected my face in my vehicle mirror, I noticed that although my face was pointing east, my nose was facing west. I was bleeding a little, but other than that I was okay.

I bring all this up because texting and walking is a far more serious issue than you might think. Texting and walking causes about 11,000 injuries per year and leads to roughly 5,000 annual pedestrian deaths.

Distracted walking is steadily being discouraged in many U.S. States, such as New Jersey and Connecticut, where it is now against the law. A violation can get you up to an $85 ticket. In Honolulu, walking and texting is punishable by a fine of $99. And in England they’ve already started padding public lampposts.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about possibly being fined a hundred bucks for checking a text while walking, but I’m definitely in favor of padding all solid vertical objects. I’m in strong favor of this idea especially today, as I hold a package of frozen corn over my face to reduce swelling.

Although, I have to admit, this ice-cold can of non-iceberg I’m drinking works very well, also.


  1. Colin Johnson - March 27, 2022 1:09 pm

    I suggest texting your wife as you begin checkout. “Honey, I’m on my way home”

  2. Linda Clayton - March 27, 2022 1:14 pm

    I can share your pain. Several years ago I tripped over a bag in the Salt Lake City airport which someone had left near the aisle. I was reading an article about things to do and see on our trip while doing distracted walking. Unlike you, I wound up with a broken hand. A vacation is no fun with your hand in a cast.

  3. patp - March 27, 2022 1:15 pm

    Love your column, as always! It’s a great way to start my day. May I recommend the Publix grocery app?? Even if you don’t shop at Publix you (and more importantly, your wife) can use the app to make a grocery list. (also payments!) You would both be able to access the same list, in real time, and check off items as you collect them. If you are shopping at Publix, you can choose the store location, and the app will (mostly) sort your items by aisle number. It’s not a perfect sort. but it helps a lot. Non-iceberg would probably not sort correctly! Have a great day, and keep doing what you do so well.

  4. Trudy - March 27, 2022 1:21 pm

    My sister ran into a plate glass window when she was 5 years old. My mother was laughing so hard she couldn’t even check to see if she was okay. My family always laughs when we do something like that. I hope your nose is going to be okay but I would have laughed too.

  5. Cm - March 27, 2022 1:21 pm

    You know, of course, that you are to blame for fostering this behavior. You truly are a good guy:)

  6. Charlotte Virginia McCraw - March 27, 2022 1:22 pm

    Ahhhhh, how I do LOVE your humor. I laugh right out loud every morning when I read your post. And that begins my day in a positive way. Thanks again, Sean. You rock!!!!

  7. kbelrod - March 27, 2022 1:26 pm

    Most men that are sweet enough to get groceries have a Starbucks coffee , wait for the complete list to bing , then load items.

  8. Ginny Nevins - March 27, 2022 2:18 pm

    I am laughing out loud (yes, I know there is an acronym for that but I mean REALLY laughing out loud!) My hubby usually gets the last one when he’s already in the car. I understand the GOOD toilet paper too as my hubby is a bargain shopper and will come home with the sandpaper type instead of Charmin. I have to think literally too and avoid saying multiples or he will come home with six months’ worth of something that is packaged as multiples. Thanks for starting off a moving day well!

  9. Jim Crain - March 27, 2022 2:26 pm

    Still laughing. You bring so much joy.Keep
    up the good work, we need your humor
    in these troubling times.

  10. Paul McCutchen - March 27, 2022 2:49 pm

    I turned off my phone once when I went to the store so that wouldn’t happen. I thought I was being smart but it just caused me another trip.

    • Axel - May 15, 2022 9:13 pm


  11. Nancy Carnahan - March 27, 2022 2:54 pm

    Here’s an idea that might save one jog across the store–just don’t buy non-good toilet paper.

  12. Fred Frederick - March 27, 2022 3:03 pm

    Those helpful cellphones sometimes get us into a lot of trouble.

  13. Joy Amy Chanin - March 27, 2022 3:08 pm

    I hope you recover from your nose/glass door encounter. If you don’t accommodate your wife’s texts after you are in line, perhaps she will remember to let you know ahead of time. And, please don’t use plastic bags- please use recycling bags. Thanks!

  14. Patricia Gibson - March 27, 2022 3:10 pm

    I needed that today 🤣

  15. Jocelyn E Piccone - March 27, 2022 3:18 pm

    When I worked at Texas Tech U Health Sciences we had a Campaign to not text and walk. A video was filmed showing what cold happen. True, lots of injuries from waling and texting as well as driving. Texters beware!

  16. Susie Flick - March 27, 2022 3:33 pm

    Agree that distracted walking can be hazardous – I haven’t acquired that talent with my phone. Phones can be helpful and harmful and irritating. The most irritating thing about phones anywhere are the ones carrying on a conversation while shopping. The persons with their earbuds in and talking to someone and not realizing how loud they are talking to the person on the other end of the call. I honestly don’t care to hear about anyones personal business and then have it be one sided,.since you have no idea what the other person is saying. I am always surprised at those who are not aware that their “private” conversation is not completely private when they are walking around a store talking. One time someone said something that I thought was meant to have a reply from me. I answered with “oh I’m sorry, didn’t realize you were on your phone”. How did we all exist when phones were attached to a wall in our home? Funny thought as so many today have never had a landline or a party line….now that’s another story.

  17. Al - March 27, 2022 4:44 pm

    My wife and I use a little grocery app that syncs up. When we first began to use it, I input the aisle each item was on. Pretty soon, I had enough items so located, I could begin at the back of the store and work my way to the front, picking up items as I went. Slicker’n a snake in silk pajamas. Except, my wife would inevitably add items as I as shopping. So I looked like a shuttlecock going back and forth, back and forth. Better than having folks wait in line, but not much better!!

  18. bcsbug@gmail.com - March 27, 2022 4:45 pm

    Sean, old buddy, old pal, you need a new house rule — give you a written list to take to the store. Any additions will have to wait until the next week. After all, you ARE being gracious enough to handle this duty for the household!

    • lindajtaylor555 - March 29, 2022 2:48 am

      Hi Sis, loved your comment. Very on point. I was frustrated reading this one and can’t believe anyone would allow someone so inconsiderate to dominate their lives in such a non productive manner. You go!!! ljt

  19. Steve McCaleb - March 27, 2022 5:55 pm

    Next time send her and bombard her with 157 texts demanding additional Coors Iceberg. Tell her you have decided to take up weightlifting…..12 ounces at a time.

  20. Pat - March 27, 2022 6:06 pm

    When you enter the store., turn your phone off!
    If you get home and she needs something else…hand her yhe car keys! I’m sure she will understand:)

  21. Becky+Souders - March 27, 2022 6:15 pm

    I want one of those cardboard fans, like we used to use in summer church services, but instead of saying “Jesus saves,” it would herald “Hang up and pay attention.” I guess this would also work in church. Love your words, Sean Dietrich.

  22. Linda Moon - March 27, 2022 6:47 pm

    “Uh-Oh”, I thought when I read the title of this New post. My Guy and I just discussed grocery items we needed, and I went with him to the store, so no texts or calls were necessary this time. But there’ll be another time soon when I’m not there with him, so cellphone calls most likely….no, scratch that, to cell phone calls WILL be necessary.

  23. Adrienne Possenti - March 27, 2022 7:26 pm

    You are one tolerant husband. Mine grumbles when I ask him to pick up my prescription from the supermarket pharmacy as he says “It’s not on the list”.

  24. Chris Spencer - March 27, 2022 8:00 pm

    Can I make a suggestion? Do like absent-minded me.

    I leave a notepad on my kitchen counter. Whenever I realize I am getting low on a grocery item, I write it on the notepad. I keep doing this until I go to the grocery store again.
    And on the day I go to the store, before I leave my house I search my refrigerator, cabinets, under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, my freezer and my laundry room to see if there is anything else I need to add to my list.
    Then I take the list with me to the store.
    Fortunately I do not have anyone to send me untimely texts while I am shopping.

  25. BillE. - March 27, 2022 9:37 pm

    I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been walking and someone almost walks into me. Distrijabcted walkIng can be quite a prOblem and dangerous. We have become so attached to our phones and I would imagine the majority of texts we receive are unnecessary, but I would guess that varies from person to on. While the cell phone is an amazing invention , but too often misused. All I can say is be careful.

  26. Anne Arthur - March 27, 2022 11:21 pm


  27. Linda Taylor - March 28, 2022 2:00 am

    I enjoy reading your articles every morning while I drink my coffee. While this one was entertaining and I laughed a few times, I hope this encounter was embellished a bit!! I have a Pet peeve of inconsiderate people walking in stores, parking lots and public talking on their phones. Reading texts or fidgeting with a phone seems like a person addicted to their phone & not concerned abt their or others safety.
    Can’t believe you actually allow your other Half to interrupt you in such a manner. Tell me it ain’t so!

  28. Donna Willey - March 28, 2022 5:11 pm

    Another favorite

  29. Laurie Wasilewski - March 28, 2022 5:31 pm

    Hysterical, Sean. I hate to laugh at your expense, but I sure did need that laugh today!!! Thank you to you and your nose. Hoping that you get better soon!

  30. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - March 29, 2022 4:37 am

  31. Gaylon Ponder - September 2, 2023 3:36 pm

    Perhaps this is the problem. Mom frequently commenter that she could only send dad to the store (25 miles) for one item. If she sent him for three he would forget one. If she made a list he memorized it and never looked at it. He remembered some things! Perhaps Jamie is using technology to send you for one thing at the time and save lots of trips. Just saying 😆


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