There are few things I hate in life more than going to the grocery store. OK, well, there are lots of things I hate worse, but I am writing about the grocery store right now. First off, I hate PARKING at the grocery store. I always seem to go at the wrong time. I don’t wait to go on payday, but for some reason it’s always payday when I go. Or church is just getting out. Then there is always some person blocking the very beginning of the aisle waiting for someone halfway down to back out so they can get a closer spot. Then there is the whole waiting for pedestrian shoppers in the crosswalk to get the heck out of the way. I swear half of them slow down when they see you waiting. And then here comes another wave by the time that one’s gotten out of the way. When you finally find a spot, it is miles away. And it is either next to the cart corral, so shoppers will hurl their carts unhesitatingly into your car, or it is eight miles from the cart corral, so you have to walk eight miles to put the damn cart away, and all the while your door is unlocked and you’re sure someone is about to steal your car, and your purse, and the cheese bear claws you’ve sneaked into the front seat to eat on your way home.
Once you get inside you get into the whole key/purse/cart juggling routine where you try to consolidate your keys into your purse and put your sweater on and get the purse into the cart all while moving, so you don’t block the door on the way in. The carts are usually a) stuck together, b) wet, or c) sticky. Or worse yet, d) with one stuck wheel that squawks and skids and drags the cart sideways. Or all of the above.
Then of course they have the dreaded bakery area right at the entrance so you have to walk through a diet minefield while starving (hence the bear claws in the front seat). Then they have the wine, and that’s pretty tempting too. And then things have gotten just so specialized. My grocery store has a cooler just for tea and lemonade. If you pass through all this, you get to the produce area where they have the RIDICULOUS fake thunderstorms to make you forget that they are just dousing the produce in water to get the germs and the dirt off. I mean, fake thunder? Really? Where’s the lightening? Oh, right. That’s that flickering fluorescent light right over the onions and the bok choy.
In the deli section we have the famous singing stocker who smiles sunnily at you and sings some arcane unrecognizable show tune at the top of his lungs. He has been there forever. To be honest, he is actually one of the highlights of the grocery store trip.
Then we have cereal, another mine field if you are unlucky enough to have your kid with you. My daughter begs for Cap’N Crunch and Krave without shame. Since we have never, ever bought her either, where does she get this? How does she even know what they taste like? Actually, she tells me, they are given to them as a snack at aftercare. Thanks, aftercare. And why put the chocolate syrup and the peanut butter in the same aisle as the cereal? And coffee? In what way do these items go together? Oh well, I guess they have to put them somewhere.
Then there is the bleachy reek and chill of the fish department. The signs over the aisles are just too difficult to read unless I remember to bring in my driving glasses. Juice and Mexican food? Together? Then of course they are always out of whatever particular brand I am looking for. And the stockers dodge and run the other way if it looks like you have a question.
The bread aisle is scary. All the bags have been squeezed as if all the parents in the store gave them to their kids and told them they were Charmin. And there has always just been a run on the wheat kind that we always like. Thank goodness my husband got out of his “rounds” kick, where he bought those stupid little flat bread rounds that are a very unsatisfying half centimeter thick. They are like eating solid crust.
The freezer aisle – brrrrr. We always need popsicles for hubby, and they always have the wrong kind. The plain, not the tropical. Or they don’t have the sugar free. And I have to look at all the delicious pints of Haagen Daz and walk away. Then we need parmesan cheese. I like the shredded. The husband likes the powdered. I always lose.
By the time I reach the registers, the lines are a mile long. There is always some idiot with fifty-eight items in the express lane. I’ve been told the checkers are not allowed to correct people in the lane with too many items. They just have to smile and ring them all up. The customer is always right. Then I get the lane with a) no bagger so I have to bag all my own stuff or b) the world’s stupidest laziest bagger who puts a gallon of milk on top of my loaf of bread. The credit card reader never takes on the first swipe. Then there is the do-I-need-help dilemma, where you don’t really feel like having a stranger poke around in your car, but it would be nice to have someone take the cart away, versus loading your own groceries into the car and dispose of the cart but you don’t have to worry about making pleasantries with a weirdo bagger person who always appears to be memorizing the license plate on your car for a later home assault.
I never feel safe backing out. I have never felt safe backing that stupid minivan, even with the cute little backup cam that is designed to keep you from running over your own toddler in your own driveway. I just know some litigious freak is going to throw their body behind my van where they are just out of sight so that I will run over them and get sued for lots of money. Or someone with a cart will just pop out behind me. Or some other car will swoop up too close to me because they want my damn parking spot (I can’t think why, because I am usually parked somewhere out in lower east hell). Driving out of the lot is just as much fun because there are cars popping out from all the aisles and pulling across them so they are hurtling right at you. And it is very hard to manage this with one hand, while you are backing out and trying to eat your tasty bear claw. Very disruptive to bear claw enjoyment. That’s the worst part of the whole thing.