Getting Lost In the Supermarket

Everybody’s gotta shop. Even celebrities (gasp) who, as s US magazine reminds us, are  “just like us”.

Supermarkets are so astonishing now; like toy stores where you must choose between the new line of Star Wars action figures.  Will it be talking Yoda or the Baba Fett?  A stunning array of fruits and vegetables, five new cereals, and OMG! peanut butter mixed with Nutella in the same jar?!

I’ve audibly gasp.

But how does one navigate this astounding array of edibles?  It’s your lucky day, shoppers; I’m sharing my plan with you.

Your first assignment, should you choose to accept it, it to wrestle a cart free from the stack 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 is to remain focused at all times.

There are a mountain of choices.  We’re fortunate to live in the land of plenty.  

The challenge is to remain calm. Don’t  crack under the pressure of dealing with the self absorption of your fellow shoppers.  This is what went on at he deli counter – which 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 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, find your way around a store you’ve been shopping in for years.  Because now, every store has a rearranged layout.  Just to mess with us .  Let’s see if they can find the onions.  They’ve left us to stumble around using GPS to find the toilet paper.

Make sure you drown out the “experience enhancing” soundtrack.  Despite all the effort they’ve invested into dragging out your stay, the music they’re pumping out of their speakers is a deterrent. I’m sprinting through a store that plies my eardrums with Huey Lewis followed by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. The secret weapon?   Earbuds and iPods.

The Clash distracted me as I defiantly slammed food into my cart, trying to make it home in time for the school bus.

Not in the clear yet, you still have to deal with the dreaded check out line.  Will you be doomed to the one where the person ahead of you is buying gum with their Mastercard, the one with the extreme couponer,  or the person who pays in several transactions?  With pennies.

And isn’t it the best when they carry on a conversation with the cashier?  Maybe they’ve been on house arrest for a year and they’re on their first food run.  No, it’s fine.  Talk about your kids.  Talk about the weather.  Oh look! Orbit has 6 gum flavors! Heidi Klum and Seal are getting back together.  I can get a 20 pack of batteries.

Finally it’s my turn.

18 year old cashier: What’s this – a cucumber?

Me:  It’s a zucchini.

Cashier:  What’s a zucchini?

Me: Squash.

Cashier:  No, your eggs are fine Ma’am.

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?

Me:  Cauliflower.

Cashier:  Dude, it’s it looks like a brain!

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.  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.

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.”

Yeah Bruce! You’re right!  This is bullsh*t 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 on my way toward the rest of my life, I’m armed with a cart full of food and a world of possibilities.

Where’d I park the car?

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3 responses on “Getting Lost In the Supermarket

  1. Lori


    I’m weird — I grown to like grocery shopping. But I do go early in the morning (weekday preferred) to avoid crowds.

    Oh and your comment on NJ. Right on — high five fellow Jersey girl 🙂

  2. Linda Roy Post author

    You know Lori, I used to really like grocery shopping too. Still do – at Wegmans, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods. The ingredients and specialty foods are so interesting and exciting. Like I said, sometimes I audibly gasp. It really is like food Disney Land. But sometimes it becomes a chore with the crowds. That’s why I need to start going early too. Hi five right back atcha fellow Jersey Girl! 🙂

  3. Lin Randolph

    Last Sunday I tried, with all my might, to make it through both Trader Joe’s and Fairway Market on the UWS to do my weekly shopping. But, within minutes of entering each store, I felt like the walls were closing in on me from the chaos. The cacaphony of muzak + people screaming into their phones + children screaming + employees trying desperately to stock bare shelves = the 7th circle of hell. I left both stores with empty bags. Luckily, I always have the basics stocked at home in case of emergency. I’ll try again this week, but at the crack of dawn when the stores open…when most folks are still sleeping.

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