Thursday, May 24, 2007

No Jewels For Me

I have found the one place worse than the grocery store at 1 pm on a weekday afternoon. The ghetto Jewel grocery store at 7 pm on a Monday night.

I don’t know what possessed me. I hate Jewel. I hate the very thought of Jewel. All of their parking lots are poorly engineered and their aisles are too small. But alas, Jewel is on the way home from the gym and a weekend away meant no food in the house come Monday.


I had two choices – quick stop at the ghetto Jewel or starve.

But there is no such thing as a quick stop at the ghetto Jewel. Experience should have taught me. The store is incredibly small, overstuffed, and always crowded. Not only that, but it was perhaps the worst entrance and exit of any grocery parking lot. You risk life and grocery when you exit northbound on 53.

But what can you do. You have to eat, and you have to shop to get the food to eat. And that’s how I found myself in the ghetto Jewel on Monday night.

A word on the word ghetto. I say ghetto to represent a general feeling in the store. The store is just ghetto. It never has a fresh vegetable. It never has less than 10 people waiting in line. It has aisles the width of a pipe cleaner. The eggs are always broken. The customers are sketchy. Everyone appears to be 20 or 30 something, single, and filling their cart with Doritos, white bread, and Lean Cuisine. And the parking lot is filled with Chevy Cavaliers missing hubcaps and windows. And that is what makes it the ghetto Jewel.

I was pushing my cart around, wearing my clothes from a run. I looked like the world’s biggest tri dork, totally out of place in this place, but I really didn’t care. They could even throw loaves of white bread at me and I wouldn’t care. Just get me out of this place.

Of course, anything fresh was overpriced and anything processed was dirt cheap. Which meant I had about 20 bags of frozen fruit and vegetables in my cart. And lots of other things. In fact, why does it seem like most people are always in the store buying 3 things and I am always buying about 300? Don’t you people eat?

I approached the checkout lanes to find, of course, that they were stacked. Completely filled with long lines waiting. So I went over to the self check out. Not that I would be any quicker in checking out my 300 items, but I would at least not be bored.

I got in line behind your typical Chicagoland fiftysomething woman. You know the type. Short hair, glasses, big butt, and shorts that go down to her knees. Spend enough time here and you soon realize that Illinois is the land of ugly women like this, a representation of what happens when you spend fifty some odd years smoking, drinking beer, eating a steady diet of stuffed pizza and brats, and spending your days sitting on a couch watching baseball.

Anyways, I got off track there. So I’m behind this beauty queen, and I am standing there holding two jars of spaghetti sauce (Paul Newman, yum). I don’t know why I was holding them. I suppose I had selected them as the first two items I would ring up and just felt compelled to stand there and hold them.

I wasn’t looking at her, or what she was buying, or staring, or tapping my foot. Actually, I was noticing the girl behind me who seriously had the world’s biggest boobs on the world’s smallest body. I notice things like that.

So this woman is completing her own self checkout, and I’m just standing there. As she grabs her receipt, she turns to me and says don’t rush me or anything.

Still holding my jars of sauce, I stand there, my mouth drops open, and I say – to the girl with the world’s biggest boobs – did she just say that?

You have to understand that this – this blatant and random form of rudeness for no reason at all is so totally Illinois. It happens all the time. And what strikes me is that I have never gotten it anywhere else. I have grocery shopped all over this country – Alabama, California, Arkansas, Texas – even Canada - and never once been verbally assaulted outside of Illinois state lines.

It caught me so off guard, I didn’t even know what to say. When I realized what she had said, I wanted to go running – how appropriate, I was dressed for it – after her and tell her that I wasn’t trying to rush her. In fact, I didn’t care about her at all. And furthermore, why is it that everyone in the world thinks you are so tuned into them and what they are doing when you were really just standing there ogling a set of big boobs. WHY. What does that have to do with HER?

But I didn’t run. After all, I had just run 45 minutes at a speedy post-race pace – in other words, I shuffled for a few miles. I finished checking out my groceries, and I will admit I had no business being in the self-checkout line. But that had nothing to do with that woman and her comment. After all, I was behind her. Still, it took me nearly ten minutes, required two assists from the clerk, and credit card approval because apparently when you spend over $50 in the self checkout lane they assume you have stolen someone’s credit card and are making outrageous purchases like a dozen eggs, plain yogurt, bananas, you know all of the things you would rush right out to buy if you illegally came upon someone else’s credit card.

I avoided death by Cavalier in the parking lot, safely made the left turn on to 53, and drove home. As I hauled my purchases into the house, Chris appeared in the hall. “Please give me a swift kick in the ass,” I said.

He looked at me a little concerned but at the same time a little delighted by the thought of planting his foot in my ass; something I am sure he has wickedly dreamed of from to time when my mood has raged, or I’ve called him a smelly ape after running, or I’ve yelled at him for dropping yet another pair of socks on the floor.

“Why?” he asked.

“I am hoping if you do something that feels really bad it will remind me never to go to the ghetto Jewel again,” I explained.

Say no more, he said. He had stopped there too many times on his own to know exactly what I was talking about. In fact, it had become kind of a who pulls the shortest straw to decide which of us would have to suffer through a stop at that store.

But from here on out, I will never draw that straw again, because I will never go there again. And as for all you fiftysomething bow-wow women in Illinois, you can take your rudeness and shove it up your wideload white bread processed butt. I should have thrown my jars of spaghetti sauce right at you and never looked back. Because I’ve learned my lesson. They say diamonds are a girls best friend, but this girl wants nothing to do with Jewels. No more.

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