Ah, the grocery store. There once was a time it was my happy place. I remember starting out as a newlywed, getting all decked out in my makeup and pearls for a trip into town to buy all the chips & dip, pop and cookies we would require for the next week. Then seven years later, I was the one with no mascara, and the carseat in the cart, stacking groceries all around the kid, making more responsible purchases like Similac and Arrowroots. Then I became the one with the unbrushed hair and big dark circles under my eyes, pushing two kids in one cart and dragging another cart behind me loaded with stuff like organic apples, diapers, Cheerios and Clamato Juice (hey, a mom’s gotta live). Then before long, we were up to three kids, and I was the
yummy mummy scraggy frump pushing just one cart again, with one kid sitting in the top part (that was always fun – trying to hold a squirming kid up high enough to get the legs in the cart holes –akin to putting a worm back down the hole), and two kids hanging off the side. Or sometimes one of them would be scrunched up where the cases of pop should go, and the other one would be racing around a few aisles over, annoying other shoppers.
We have lots of fond memories from shopping with the kids. Like the time our youngest was sitting up in the cart, when she was about two years old. Another lady pushed her cart up close to us, and she had a little baby about three months old. The cute little baby was staring at our little Laura, and the mother and I exchanged smiles and nods, sharing the glow of motherhood. As we both examined the bacon, I saw my daughter lean closer to speak to the baby. I thought to myself, “Aww, precious”…. then she said, in a growly, Clint Eastwoodish voice:
“What are YOU gawking at?” I scurried away
Kids or no kids, grocery shopping is a lot harder than it looks. You are expected to make a lot of decisions, plus perform some fairly complicated math calculations. At the front door is the first major decision – push cart or hand basket? Let’s be serious – they should completely get rid of those hand baskets. On the rare occasions that I have convinced myself to use one, I can be found moments later, one aisle over, staggering under its weight. It’s like they conspire to put all the heavy things on sale the day I use a hand basket. I’m the queen of the heavy impulse buy. Potatoes , juice, beans. I then have to alternate carrying it with two hands between my legs like a toddler learning to bowl, or casually dangle it off my forearm like a purse – ignoring the excruciating pain and increasingly deep dent in my flesh. I ran into a friend shopping recently and she had a hand basket that she had stacked so high that she couldn’t even lift it, and had resorted to leaving it sitting in the aisle and bringing purchases back to it, stacking it higher and higher. Thank heavens I arrived with my push cart – I did my good deed for the day by giving her 200lb hand basket a ride to the checkout, while she walked alongside with her hand atop the highest items so it wouldn’t topple.
And speaking of running into friends – is there anything worse when you’re just trying to get your groceries and get out, than getting to a section where you need something and two other shoppers — apparently long-lost old friends– are blocking the aisle and have pushed their carts together and are playing catch up with all the news in each other’s lives, and all you want is to find the spice that you need and be gone? They make half-hearted attempts to move their carts closer to the shelves, but inevitably you need something that they are blocking entirely. Those inconsiderate people piss me off.
Yes – come to think of it there is something worse. Occasionally when I see somebody at the grocery store that I haven’t seen for a while, and we’re trying to have a conversation – maybe she’s showing me some pictures on her cell phone or something – and other shoppers look all aggravated and make “tsk” sounds and try to ram their carts by, or reach past us to get stuff. Those ignorant people piss me off.
One sure-fire way I know to make sure I see everyone I know in town is to go to the store without any makeup on, dressed like a slob. Guaranteed all my friends, enemies, and the ageless cheerleader from high school will be all up in my business. Those are the days that I’m forced to shop without my glasses on, and operate like Mr. Magoo and can’t see anyone, least of all that slim, well dressed do-gooder lady with the cute haircut whose kid used to hang out with my kid. Sometimes might have to skip a few aisles to avoid an encounter, and go home without a few items I really need, but hey – priorities.
However, should I have just come from the hairdresser and be wearing one of my business suits that is from this decade, in full makeup complete with lip gloss, I guarantee that I will not see a single soul I know. If I should see someone familiar – I won’t be able to catch their eye, despite whistling, waving and full on jumping jacks.
Plus, regardless of how much time I spend shopping. Once I’m officially trapped in the checkout line, I always see something in someone else’s cart that I meant to get. And I want it. Bad. I weigh my options … create a distraction and just grab it? Offer to buy it at a premium? None seem feasible, so I say “back in a minute” and then walk-run through the store trying desperately to get back before the checkout person has finished running all my stuff through. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I get distracted, and keep shopping and have to be paged. So what, who cares.
A recent grocery shopping trip was a little hair-raising. I completed my purchases, paid and then was on my way out with my cart loaded with bags, when I was stopped dead in my tracks by a huge candy display that I had missed on the way in. How is that possible? Candy is just about my favorite thing! There were a couple of other people browsing, which added to the sense of urgency. Could this be the candy sale to beat all candy sales??? However, good sense prevailed (I am after all, in the words of my daughter, a grown-ass woman) so I decided not to buy any candy and instead I pushed the cart in a most dignified manner, out to my truck in the parking lot. Once I got out there and opened the back of the truck to begin loading my bags of groceries in, I made the unfortunate discovery that I had actually pushed someone else’s cart out to the parking lot, full of unpaid for groceries. I raced back inside, and mine was still stalled beside the enticing Fuzzy Peaches and Licorice display. Nearby there was a bewildered looking man with his arms full of fruit and vegetables who appeared to have lost something. His wife looked irritated. I dropped their cart off close to them, then grabbed mine and headed back out the door as they stared. I quietly muttered the only thing I could think of …
“What are YOU gawking at?”
Yes, I realized I have come full circle. Once again I shop alone. And I may be a grown ass woman, but I can annoy other shoppers even better than my kids ever did. And there’s still so much to look forward to in my shopping career. Next milestone at the grocery store – the driving carts, and bad parallel parking in the Polident aisle.