Adventures in Supermarket Shopping
It is Sunday afternoon, and, as if by instinct, as we inch closer towards the one o'clock hour, every resident within a 4,925 mile radius of my southern New Jersey town descends upon our local supermarket.
Why, you ask?
I simply don't know.
Perhaps they are compelled to join the throngs of their brethren by forces unknown. Perhaps they believe it is the law of the land that their refrigerator can only be restocked during this small weekend window of opportunity. Or perhaps, like my husband Bob and me, they suffer from supermarket stupidity, which is the only rational reason I can provide for our insistence on making this horrid, insufferable, weekly pilgrimage every Sunday afternoon.
In preparation for my journey, I make a list. When I arrive at the supermarket, I ignore items that are not on my list. I place items on my list in my cart. I pay for items on my list. I bring the items on my list home. I put the items on my list away. End of story.
Bob's version of a trip to the supermarket, however, is quite different from mine. You see, any opportunity to plant his feet in a land where 1,973 brands of ketchup await the eager consumer is an adventure that borders on a religious experience. With unbearable patience, he slowly, carefully, cautiously wheels the cart down each and every aisle, scanning the shelves with meticulous care, lest he miss one of the spectacular, super, special sales!
On a recent trip to the land of plenty, we began the journey as usual, in the produce section, then made our way to the deli. As our cart bore the literal fruits of our labor, we turned the corner in preparation for our approach to the toiletries aisle. After procuring some razors, contact solution, and shampoo, we turned yet again to the cereal aisle, at which point Bob absentmindedly looked at me and asked, "Do we need ground meat?"
"No," I explained. "I am going to get chicken, crab cakes, turkey meatballs, and pasta, so we don't need ground meat."
My response seemed to satisfy his curiosity, so we traveled onward.
We passed the soda aisle. We passed the canned goods aisle. We passed the pet food aisle. We passed the frozen vegetables aisle.
Then Bob turned to me once again and asked, in all seriousness. "Do we need ground meat?"
"No," I responded, deciding to refrain from yelling at him and giving him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he didn't hear my explanation the first time he asked.
Onward we trudged. We passed the paper goods. We passed the dairy products. We passed the bread aisle. We stopped in the meat aisle.
I held my breath, for a knew that a question was about to form on my husband's lips, and I knew what that question was going to be. And sure enough, he uttered the following words.........
"Do we need ground meat?"
"Bob," I said, struggling to keep my voice below 3,000 decibels. "If you were you, you would drive you crazy!"
He shook his head in silence, wondering why I always get so worked up at the supermarket.
"Do we need cat food," he asked.
"Are you sure?"
"Do we need laundry detergent?" he asked.
"Are you sure?"
"Do we need more soup?" he asked.
"Are you sure?"
"Bob, we have enough soup to last through a nuclear war!"
"I need more tea," he said.
"Bob, we have 30 boxes of tea in the cabinet."
"But I drink it, and it's on sale."
Four hours later, after I replaced nearly every item my husband tried to sneak into the cart, and after maneuvering around harried young mothers with screaming babies, harried middle-aged mothers with texting teens in tow, and harried elderly folks causing traffic jams with their motorized carts, we finally made our way to the check out line. At this stage in our journey, 7,822 people were waiting in front of us, while a sickeningly sweet cashier read the fine print on EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY COUPON EVER PRINTED to make sure that shoppers did not DARE sneak only one bottle of orange juice through the conveyor belt when the coupon CLEARLY stated that the .20 discount only applied if you purchased two bottles of orange juice. And lord help us if a brave shopper attempted to procure the 16 ounce jar of peanut butter when the discount clearly warned that you must buy the 64 ounce jar or you will perish!
With our wallets much, much lighter thanks to the 400 rolls of toilet paper, 200 packages of trash bags, and 14,000 bottles of diet coke Bob insisted we needed, we made our way home, swearing that next time, we'd go on Saturday, or at least later in the day on Sunday.
Oh who am I kidding.......next Sunday at 1 pm, we'll be back, ready to be tortured once again. Either that, or we'll starve...which just might be the better option!