The Hunger Games

I had to do it today…brave the dreaded isles of the grocery store.  I was down to a couple slices of stale bread and some moldy cheese in the fridge.  I try to avoid this massive conglomerate of landmines as much as possible. Picking through bruised fruit to find something salvageable. Dodging aisle displays that never should have been squeezed in between the deli counter and beer displays. Waiting…always waiting behind that cart driven by the sweet little old lady who can’t see over the handle nor push the cart once it has more than 6 items in it. The cart veers off to the left. Damn, that wobbly wheel! She can’t control it. It crashes into the canned goods that were once stacked neatly at the edge of the shelf and are now strewn all across the isle. Do I help pick up the cans? Do I go find a worker to do it? Or do I just push past the startled old lady, carrying my cart over the scattered cans like I’m in a strong-man competition? Ugh!! I hate making decisions!

A trip to the grocery store is an anxiety-ridden outing for me. Today was not different.  Not only did I have to go to the store, I had to do it while my son was at a class.  I had a time limit, a strict one.  Get outa my way, people – crazy lady on a mission!!

Today started as a rather successful mission, however.  I managed to find a fairly good parking spot.  No one tried to run me over while I was in the cross walk.  I’d remembered my reusable shopping bags and produce bags (we’re a bit green in my house).  I’m in….unscathed up to this point.  But, this is where the real games begin.

I scan to my right: people putting carts away.  I scan to my left: people using the Redbox.  I see my opening and make a run for it, grabbing my cart on the way by.  Yes!! Four wheels, all responding to my directional push at the same time! Score!  Okay, concentrate.  Because of traffic, I only have 40 minutes left to get everything I need and get through the checkout.  You have to leave enough time for the checkout.

Produce section – tangerines, grapes, peppers, carrots, mirepoix – DONE! On to the next challenge: getting through the chips/snacks aisle with ONLY the one bag of tortilla chips needed for work.  Just one.  Just for work.  I. don’t. need. chips……..NO!  I speed out of the aisle before it all goes wrong.  On to the deli – nope it’s too busy.  I take a number but continue shopping.  Canned goods, sauces, meats, frozens.  Check on the deli – nope, not on my number.  I keep shopping.  Dang!  I made a list.  Where did I put the list?  What was on the list??  Beans!  I need beans!  I backtrack three isles to get the beans.  I’m close to the deli again.  WHAT?!  They’re past my number!!  I was gone two minutes. It took 15 minutes to advance 3 numbers, how did it go 8 more in 2 minutes?!  Ok….no lunch meat for tomorrow.  It’s ok, he’s getting used to vegetarian lunches.  CRAP!  The kid!  What time is it?!?!

AAGGGHHHH!!  Two more things, then I have to get in line!

Whew! I’m in line.  Only 1 person in front of me.  Not a lot of items on the belt.  This should be okay.  ………………………….. Still waiting.  ………………………………………… How many thing were on the belt?  Finally, it’s my turn.  Pleeeeeease hurry…..I have to go pick up my son!

Doomed.  I have that cashier.  The one who talks about every item he scans.  He asks questions.  Offers comments. Makes jokes. I don’t respond, except to be polite.  Maybe he’ll get the hint that I’m not interested in talking, just getting out of the war zone.  Then he tries to make small talk with me. He didn’t get the hint.

“Are you all ready to cook Thanksgiving dinner?”        my family goes out for Thanksgiving

“Does your husband like these tangerines?”          I’m single

“Wasn’t that Bills’ game great this weekend?”       I wasn’t at home to watch it

“The Sabres are looking better finally”         I don’t follow hockey

“Can I just put this cheese in with the bread”      that’s bar soap

I started to feel real bad for the guy.  He was trying so hard and striking out with every statement.  Meanwhile, I’m looking around and thinking why do I have 5 grocery bags for $50 worth of small items??

Worst. Bagger. Ever.

Bagging – do they not teach that anymore when you work at grocery stores? There’s an art to it, you know?  I even group my items on the conveyor to make it easier for you.  Don’t reach over the rest of the boxes to put bananas in with the cereal.  Bag all the boxes together.  They will fit in one bag and be easy to carry.  Cold items are all next to each other on the belt, bag them that way.  They will keep colder when packed together.  STOP MIXING UP MY ITEMS – JUST BAG THEM THE WAY I PLACE THEM.

I have to close my eyes and just wait until it’s all over.  I pay my bill, pack my bags in the car and race back to get my son.  I have three minutes to spare.  I take a deep breath, relieved that I survived the excursion and don’t have to go back for at least a week.

CRAP!  I forgot the milk.

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