I was standing in the supermarket, contemplating my tomato paste options, when I noticed a man a few feet away from me in the pasta sauce section. He was on a cell phone. He said, "I don't see it." Then he said, "I see the Paul Newman's, but I don't see anything with a white label next to it." Then he said, "I don't see it on any of the shelves. It's not here. What should I get instead?" I chose the organic Muir Glen tomato paste, one can only because that's all I need and I don't have room to stock up on staples. As I walked away, I noticed the man was now standing in front of the pasta section, scrutinizing the varieties and saying, "Uh huh, uh huh."

This is not the first time I have witnessed cellular-transmitted shopping instructions in the supermarket. The first time I encountered this phenomenon, the man was more mission-driven and sounded like he was part of a team striving to exemplify excellence in distance-directed shopping. I got the sense that the person on the other end of the line had a list and was directing the man through the store. I saw him in the dairy section, in the cleaning products section, and in the produce section, where he was describing the firmness of a cantaloupe to his partner.

I don't know if this is a commonplace occurance. I am not really tuned into the whole mobile phone thing - we've got one cellular phone in our two-person home, and it's a prepaid deal and I bet the battery is dead. It hasn't been used in weeks. So cellular phone culture really isn't on my radar, which makes witnessing these types of interactions particularly bizarre for me.