|Photo courtesy of Looking Smug|
our household needs food. Everybody's gotta shop. Even celebrities (gasp) whose forays into food shopping have been well documented in the pages of US magazine as they go on about the business of being "just like us". What I'm really saying here, is that supermarkets are so astonishingly fantabulous now, that I feel like I'm in a toy store and the new line of Star Wars action figures just came out and I'm stymied as to whether to get the new talking Yoda or the Baba Fett. In actuality, I'm looking at the stunning array of fruits and vegetables, the fact that there are five new cereals since I was last in that aisle and OMG! they have peanut butter mixed with nutella in the same jar??!!
I've been known to gasp. Out loud.
As fabulous as this all is, how should one go about navigating the astounding variety of edibles. I have a plan and I'm sharing it with you. It's your lucky day, shoppers.
Your first assignment, should you choose to accept it, it to wrestle a cart free from the collective stack up of carts that some super human, bored and slightly resentful cart guy has jammed together
using all his man force. Try to do this without cursing and pulling at the handle violently.
Once you've freed the vessel into which you will contain your treasures, the next challenge will be to remain focused at all times. I shop at a store called Wegmans. This store, no kidding, is the Disney World of food.
I mean, look at it! It's freaking beautiful! And it's HUGE. They have just about anything you could imagine AND a second floor dining room in which to enjoy the splendors of their prepared culinary delights. I could easily make a day of it. And I pretty much did, just food shopping.
Here's the thing. There are a mountain of choices. I'm not complaining. We're fortunate to live in the land of plenty. But when you factor in the time spent comparing prices, labels, nutritional content, having to deal with a six year old who insists on riding shotgun in the cart and intermittently released
in order to inspect his favorite foods in every other aisle, following the route of the train on the ceiling, all the while dodging the 16 thousand other people in the store who are so deeply invested in what they're doing that no one seems to realize that there are actually other people in the store trying to get on with it already. There are people standing in the middle of the aisles going over their lists and checking apps that compare nutritional content and talking on their cell phones.
The challenge here is to remain calm, not allowing yourself to crack under the pressure of dealing with the self absorption of your fellow shoppers. This is what went on at he deli counter - which, I might add, was teaming with people vigorously waving their numbers in the air as if they were on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange:
Woman on her cell: "Ham. You want ham? What kind of ham? They have Virginia, deluxe, smoked, maple...you want it sliced thick, medium, thin?...Boars Head, store brand?...okay... cheese....asiago, american, swiss, provolone...?"
Lady - could you not have discussed this vital information while at home in the privacy and comfort of your own home? No, that's okay. We'll wait. We'll check our Facebook pages. No. Go ahead. Really. We don't mind. This is riveting. Will he choose the provolone? Is he a pepper jack kinda guy?
Next, try to find your way around a store that you've already been shopping at for years. Because now it's completely different. I've noticed lately that every store, be it Wal Mart, Target, supermarket - they're all messing with our heads by moving everything around. Mwahahaha! Let's see if they can find the onions! Granted, Wal Mart and Target added grocery departments, but for the love of Goddess, don't mess with the floor plan. I finally know it. They've left the consumer to stumble around like morons, desperately trying to employ their GPS's to find the toilet paper. My theory is that since the recession, they need to force us to wander the store, finding things we never knew we needed or wanted so we can then toss them into our carts. They're playing dirty. And they're utilizing every square inch of available floor/display space, meaning, they're stacking it up to the ceiling. I'm 5'1", so it's not easy under normal conditions. But recently, I've felt like Amy Roloff of LIttle People, Big World, scaling the shelves to reach the one remaining container of oatmeal shoved to the back of the top shelf as the 6'1" asshat next to me carries on an urgent conversation on his cell, not noticing for a minute that I'm jumping up and down and climbing the shelves, grunting the whole time.
Asshat: "Does Dylan want Cheerios? Honey Nut, whole grain, banana nut?...."
Unfortunately, while I was listening to the Clash, I became a little distracted and perhaps didn't think much about what I was doing, as I was defiantly slamming food into my cart with a rebelliousness that could only be exhibited by a fed up housewife in the throes of trying to make it in time to meet the school bus. The pressure is on, people. The pressure is on.
You're not out of the store yet. Now you have to deal with the dreaded check out line. Will you choose the right check out line? Or will you be doomed to Larry David hell and pick the one where the person in front of you will either be buying gum with their Mastercard, or you're stuck behind an extreme couponer? Or, even better - the person who wants to pay in several transactions for no apparent reason?
Oh...bliss...oh heavy sigh...oh deep, deep yoga breath....oh humanity....OH and I love it when the person in front of me wants to carry on a conversation with the cashier. Maybe they know they know each other or the customer just wants to chat because they've been on house arrest for a year and they're on their first food run. Jeezus....I wait. No, that's fine. Talk about your kids. It's cool. Talk about the weather. I'll just study the new gum flavors and when I'm done with that, I'll read about Snooki's alien baby in the Star.
Finally it's my turn. The 18 year old cashier seems either new or just out of the bubble.
Cashier: What's this - a cucumber?
Me: It's a zucchini.
Cashier: What's a zucchini?
Cashier: No, your eggs are cool Ma'am. I put 'em over here.
Me: No, the zucchini is a squash.
Cashier: That's fine too Ma'am. I didn't put it in with any cans. What's this?
Cashier: Dude, it's weird looking!
Heavy...heavy...deep...yoga sigh....This kid must be living on a steady diet of Taco Bell.
Either that, or the only vegetable he knows is corn.
Cashier: That will be $211.
Cashier: Your shopper's card won't scan.
Me: Can you put my phone number in the computer instead?
Cashier: Wow Ma'am...I dunno....Rita? Can I like, use her phone number instead of her card?
Rita: I dunno...lemme call Wayne. WAAAYYYNNEE??
Wayne comes over. He makes this valuable and informed executive decision and we move on.
Cashier: So, what is your phone number?
Me: (In the thought balloon: Shit! Which number is it? Is it the home number from two years ago that I don't remember? Is it the Hubby's number? Is it my old cell number? My new number?....
After we try three numbers, we stumble upon the correct one. Deep...heavy...sigh.
Then he bags the deli meat with the raw chicken.
I am about to LOSE IT! And then I remember that this is New Jersey. I am a tough Jersey girl now. I can take it. I can perservere under the pressure. And then the face of New Jersey bad ass perserverance bursts into my head like a veritable fist pump in the thick air of adversity:
He's sayin' to me: "Listen baby, I know it ain't been easy. It's like workin' in a factory...somethin' I've actually never done...but baby, strap yer fists cross that cart. Baby you were born to run."
Holy Shit! Yeah Bruce! Yeah! You're right! This is bullshit man! I grab my two foot long register tape, I don't even pay attention to the kid when he offers me his pedantic "Have a nice day".
I get out into the open air of freedom. I am liberated! I am on my way to the rest of my life and I'm armed with a cart full of food and a world of possibilities.
Oh shit. Where'd I park the car?