I don’t think I’ve always been this way, but recently… I’ve discovered that I hate grocery shopping. I sometimes think that perhaps it’s tied to some deep-seated angst-ridden fear of making choices and decisions. I make those daily at work and at home… why should I have to make them when I’m shopping for food as well, especially on my day off? I’d hire someone to do it for me but then I couldn’t afford the groceries. I tried doing the online ordering thing once, but then had images of some nose/crotch picking teen with pants down around his ass groping my produce with the same hands that he masturbated with in the shower this morning.
My stress-filled journey usually begins with having to decide WHICH supermarket I am going to shop in. I study my keychain for a few minutes because I have EVERY key tag for every supermarket within a 50 mile radius and depending upon my mood and sense of adventure I’ll have to choose one of them. I have listed below some favorites. The list is NOT all inclusive.
At the top of the Supermarket food chain, in my opinion, is Wegmans. It’s actually more of a destination than a supermarket. I almost feel like I should go to some sort of “check-in” desk when I get there to get a wristband from a guy named Wally so I can hit ALL the aisles. On my first visit several years ago, I actually got lost at the one in Downingtown and came out of the store on Tuesday when I actually entered it on Monday. I suggest you bring a credit card to Wegmans in case you decide to try the café, the built-in beer distributor next door or you need to get a room across the street so you can finish your excursion in the morning. I love Wegmans when I’m in the mood, but today is not that day.
Trader Joes in Concord Delaware to me is a joke (sorry all my vegan, health-conscious, lefty liberal, save the planet type friends). The store is too small and the shopping carts at Wawa are bigger. The selection is like a who’s who of save-the-planet/organic type marketing. The customers all remind me of the hippy era of the sixties and I feel like they’re all watching what I pick to make sure I’m doing it correctly. They all scurry around in there like they have to get home to harvest their herbs before the sun goes down and whoever heard of organic Oreos and cheese-puffs anyway. It’s a conspiracy I tell you, and I don’t need to feel inferior while I’m choosing dinner. I make life altering decisions ALL day… I DON’T need to decide which independent farm I’m going to support by buying their chewing gum. Besides, they don’t have the “Star” or “People” magazine at checkout. Trader Joes is Trader Blows for me today.
The people at ShopRite are as diverse as the “It’s a Small World” exhibit at Disney with the customer’s outfits consisting of sweatpants and pajama jeans and the workers having well used meat blood stained aprons. Everyone looks typically unhappy and usually have a fist full of wrinkled coupons and all sport a squeaky cart filled with canned everything from canned corn, canned beets, and beans to canned popcorn and chips. I tend to shop here when I’m feeling less… homogenous and perhaps singing KumBaya while perusing the aisles. ShopRite is Shop Wrong today folks.
Acme and Giant seem to pretty much cater to a more generic, suburban crowd… at least in my area of East/West Goshen. The average shopping attire is a cross between light brown khakis and dark brown khakis and on the days of the week that I go there the average hair color tends to be gray. Overall these stores tend to be a fairly beige group of folks so today with all the weather related stress of this winter, I decided generic is what was on my agenda and chose ACME.
Upon entering the parking lot, I knew right away that I was in for making tons of choices today. Choices I did not want or deserve. Where to park? It’s icy and wet and cold and I want to get as close to the store as possible, so that especially on the way out, I am not slipping all over the place. Do I want to be on the bakery side or the pharmacy side? One would think this was my first day and I was letting my anxiety get the best of me so I immediately pulled in between a new Mercedes and a big 4X4 truck. I purposely steer clear of minivans at ALL times due to soccer moms trying to load groceries and kids at the same time while their minivan doors or Pampers stuffed carts are slamming into my side panel yet again.
Entering the door at ACME I was presented with choices on what I wanted to carry my groceries in during my visit. Sounds simple enough, with the regular “old fashioned” carts with the drop down seat for kids that my Mom used to put us in when we were little to smaller versions without seats or what I refer to as carts for “single’ or ‘lonely” or “loser” shoppers and of course hand baskets for that after work “pick up a few things” shopping trip. Once I visited an ACME in another area that had these big ass carts for kids. Seriously? You need to have a school bus shaped and sized cart to lug 3 screaming “children” around the store with? I swear there was a TV, game room, microwave and bathroom all located within this monstrosity that I was SURE I was going to get behind and bump into on my rounds through the aisles. I grabbed my standard cart and continued onward…
I’m a list guy. At least I like to THINK I’m a list guy. Especially with my iphone note pad, I can create and maintain TONS of lists at the drop of a hat. So a shopping list should be a piece of cake right? However, since I’m frantically thumbing through my list of lists on my phone and not paying attention to where I’m headed, I have already bumped into two small toddlers, one who is crying so loud he is SURE to become a “TeaBagger” someday and an older gentleman who judging from his apparel I actually think is a local homeless guy. The advocates for no texting while driving would have a field day with me. I pull out my ear buds and blast the ipod so I don’t have to listen to the screaming kid.
The stress continues when I reach my first venture into the produce aisle. Well, it’s not so much an aisle as an “area” really. I grab my standard green things and a few yellow things and an orange sweet pepper for color when I notice the Brussels sprouts display. I start to break out in a cold sweat before I realize it’s actually the produce spraying machine coming on to spray the vegetables. Now I KNOW I should LIKE Brussels sprouts but I just can’t get past the display. They sit there in that pyramid like shape just waiting for me to grab a few so the whole damn thing will come tumbling down. Besides I think they’re pretentious by having to put the “s” on Brussel anyway. Nope. Not doing it. I refuse to be intimidated, wipe the sweat from my brow and I move on. Perhaps I’ll revisit Brussels sprouts in the Frozen Food aisle or possibly at Shop Rite’s “can can” special next time around. My cart looks VERY health conscious at this point and I hold my head high as I round the bend to the Meat aisle.
Apologies to all my vegan friends, but I like meat. I grew up on it. Don’t judge me too harshly for I HAVE cut WAY back on hamburger, steaks, and other forms of BEEF (with the exception of L.L. Cool J., who I’d drop Daryl for in a minute, make that a second, and Daryl is WELL aware of this). I enjoy shopping for chicken, turkey, pork, fish and the occasional veal (for which I cannot NOT think of my friend Franklin who grew up next to a veal farm in Idaho and would constantly remind me of the horrors and agony these little creatures had to endure that he was a witness to) cutlet.
Once I’m finished in the meat area, I can pretty much gauge how much of the budget is left for the remainder of my journey. I turn the corner and rediscover the WATER AISLE. Okay, so WHEN did the supermarket evolve into having a FULL frickin’ water aisle? Think about it… a full aisle of water that you PAY for! Spring water, purified water, flavored water, cases upon cases of the stuff tower over me like Niagara Falls. WHY should I have to decide what type of water I want? Do you see where the stress lies here? Not only do I have to choose which case I want, but I have to eventually carry the damn thing up a total of 26 stairs to the condo when I get home! Life is not fair, so I grab my case (which has a bonus 6 EXTRA FREE bottles for me to carry) and quickly exit this aquatic hell.
Just when I thought I was safe, I found myself in the Cookies and Snacks aisle. I swear the stores put this aisle AFTER the healthy stuff so you can look at your cart and think, “Hell, look at all that healthy stuff in there… I deserve some balance… some snacks and colorful bags and boxes to make my cart look pretty… or what if guests come over? I’ll definitely need tons of snacks to feed THEM right? If it sounds like I’m rationalizing, I am. If it sounds like I’m not making the right shopping decision, I’m not. I HAVE also learned that snacks that say low fat or no sugar are all tricks of marketing, and of course flavor so I avoid those and pick out a few crunchy fun shaped things while turning up the music on my ipod to something quick and danceable… it tends to make me move quicker through the aisle.
I am now entering the Frozen section and I am really not up for it since its winter and it’s icy out and with all the snow this year, I just don’t feel like I want to visit a row of freezers today although not without grabbing a box of these Weight Watchers Ice Cream bars that Daryl and I like. It’s our ice cream “fix’ that we indulge in and it’s not so much the calories that we’re trying to save as the fact that each bar averages to an individual price of $34.50 so we can’t afford the caloric intake more than we just like ice cream.
All supermarkets seem to want to tempt you one last time, and ACME is no exception, as you weave your way through the Bakery area. They tempt you by having employees baking right on the premises and offering samples of cakes, and cookies and breads. The aromas tease my nostrils as I run quickly from this carbohydrate-filled confectionery chaos.
My panic subsides slightly as I round the bend to THE CHECKOUT LINES. I’m heading down the home stretch, however, I’m puzzled that there are lanes numbered 1 through 16, yet 2 and 13 are the only ones open. Since lane 2 has the mother who has the two kids that I accidentally ran over at the start of my trip, I decide to choose the lane closest to me. I wait patiently in line once again thumbing through my phone trying to find the “list” to see if I forgot anything.
I begin to load my stuff on the belt as I watch the acne pocked teen discuss her latest party experience to the grinning “bagger boy” as she proceeds to absent-mindedly scan my hemorrhoid cream twice and I’m too embarrassed to interject and correct her.
Just when I thought I was finished with making choices and decisions here at ACME, the bagger kid asks in his pubescent squeaky voice, “would you like paper or plastic Sir?” I nodded without actually making the choice and I don’t think the kid really was looking for an answer anyway. I paid, turned my loaded cart toward the door feeling stress free that my shopping extravaganza was over when suddenly it began snowing.