When a shopper in Texas signed up for Walgreens’ loyalty program with his email, a journalist in New York stalked their purchases

As the pandemic unfurled, many of us have developed interesting habits, like the classic newfound obsession with baking sourdough bread or doing puzzles. For New York-based journalist Adam Chandler, the passage of time was marked by spying on the shopping habits of an unknown person in Texas. Well, perhaps “spying” is too strong of a word. Someone in El Paso signed up for Walgreens’ loyalty program using Chandler’s email address and, in doing so, primed his inbox “for a wacky collision course with American drugstore commerce.” After each Walgreens visit, Chandler received an emailed copy of the shopper’s receipt. As a person who picks grocery lists off the ground just to get a sneak peak into a stranger’s shopping life, I found Chandler’s essay for Vox charming, though admittedly odd. At one point, the shopper’s decision to buy a pound of Oscar Mayer bologna seemed to push Chandler over the edge, a tizzy I could not understand as a person who knows the beauty of a fried bologna sandwich. Personally, I found it far more intriguing that at one point, the shopper appeared to be stockpiling beer- and bourbon-scented soap. —Tina Vasquez

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