On Tuesday, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of going to the grocery store.
Not just any grocery store but the Trader Joe’s. There are 3 within 5 miles of my house. Welcome to the suburbs of Chicago. If you can’t find it within 5 miles of your house it might as well be in Wisconsin. I quickly rolled through my choices:
Naperville – a vehement no flashes through my head, images of far too many young 30something moms with 3983209428092348492 kids and at least one set of fertilitydruginduced multiples, trendy sporty casual wear and the slightest idea of how to control their 2398492837492847 children around the banana display.
Scratch that off my list.
Glen Ellyn – *head shakes* Not only do you have all Naperville (above) but you also have the old people. I have nothing against old people. One day I will be an old people. But I just think that free samples and old people in a store with aisles the width of a jail cell are not a good combination.
Especially around the holidays.
Downers Grove – we may have a winner here. Not a town known for old people or moms with multiples. I threw my co-pilot (Boss) into the car and off we went.
The parking lot was madness. I survived the first turn in – barely – after a Crown Victoria slowly peels away. Closer to the store there are cars coming, going and two simultaneously pulling out from opposite directions, neither seeing the other until they are inches apart when they finally notice and start honking.
Meanwhile, Boss is barking at an older woman wheeling a cart across the parking lot.
I guess we’re all a little on edge today.
Enter the store. Enter madness. Enter the 10th circle of hell, the one that Dante left out, nestled somewhere between Avarice and Sloth is….the grocery store around Thanksgiving.
I don't like the grocery store on an ordinary day and I really don't like it on before holiday days. But I had put this trip off for 4 days. I reached the point of desperation 3 days ago when I started using frozen fruit in my oatmeal, when I settled on a lunch of couscous and beans (ew), when I considered eating a Power Bar as a snack. Desperate moments involving food can drive you to things like this.
But unless I wanted to make a meal entirely out of condiments (I believe it is Elisa’s husband who considers it a talent to create a meal entirely out of condiments something a la adding hot water to the ketchup to make a delectable feast of tomato soup with a side of capers), unless I wanted to stoop to that level of kitchen insanity I had to go to the grocery store.
I seem to have a sixth sense for choosing the cart with the gimpy wheel every.single.time. Entering the store the front left wheel is facing the wrong way. How can a cart continue to wheel forward with one of the wheels PERPENDICULAR to the others? That is my cart. It is like the short cart.
But wait, I forget that this is the demon store that actually does have short carts for the children. Be warned, shoppers, you may wish to throw on a pair of shin guards if you go shopping at Trader Joe’s in the next two days. And if you go tomorrow night, you should probably also wear a cup just to be careful.
Ever enter a store and immediately spot someone that you know is trouble? There they are: a mother and her daughter in her 20s. Didn’t matter where I went in the store, they were right there. Like RIGHT in my way so I had to wheel the damn cart around them or almost into them or kept walking into them. There’s an entire store full of food and they have to be following me? I assembled possibly the most pedestrian cart full of groceries – EVER – and they have cart envy for ME? Go pick on the lunchbox over there piling his car with chocolate covered sticky things. You won’t go hungry after 5 days following his lead. There’s a good chance you’ll starve yourself after settling for condiments if you follow me.
Remember what I said about old people? Wrong. Everywhere. Then I realize what is going on here. It is lunch time. Whomever said there is no such thing as a free lunch has never been to Trader Joe’s around lunch.
And add insult to injury they are also giving out free samples of wine. A crowd has joined around the table and completely barred any carts for passing beyond the wine toward the cheese and meat. This seems dangerous to me. There is nothing worse than shopping on an empty stomach let alone shopping while three sheets to the wind. Especially before Thanksgiving?
What did you get at the grocery store, honey? Oh, so we’re having a Thanksgiving of chips and dip this year?
A woman is complaining at the vegetable cooler. Something about not wanting to come back to get something that she obviously needs right now. Zip it, sister. It’s the suburbs. There’s another grocery store in this shopping mall.
Oh and for crying out loud why the f*&#$&!!! are you two still following me!
It’s check out time. I wheel my cart up to the register and the clerk is so freakin’ happy to see me. I bet a few minutes ago he was hanging out the back door, smoking a cigarette and threatening to throw Trader Giotto’s red sauce at the next person who stood there while he bagged 300 dollars worth of groceries. I still don’t understand why people stand there and don’t help them bag.
Wait….THIS JUST IN. Cat just sent me a picture of a sandwich board standing on a curb that reads “COMPLIMENTARY VALET PARKING”. For Whole Foods.
I believe we have identified what you will find in the 11th circle of hell. Valet parking at the grocery store.
I am being checked out. My groceries, silly! The clerk begins to scan my spinach, bread, bananas when he comes to the Greek Yogurt.
Do you need a spoon for this or is it going to survive the car ride home?
Seriously? This is a question, not a statement. Are there people out there that crave Greek Yogurt so much they cannot wait to get into the car, rip the lid off and literally drink it down – ALL 16 OUNCES OF IT – in all of its creamy thickness? Are these the same people using the grocery store valet? WHO tears into Greek Yogurt on the way home? Chocolate-covered English toffee – yes. Peanut butter cups – yes. Greek yogurt….I’ll pass.
I let him down with a conclusive, no, I will not need a spoon to for the yogurt. All 3 containers of it. And for the record I would have torn into a box of chocolate-covered toffee but you were all out.
I guess if you are really hungry you can just dig into the bananas.
You mean the green bananas? No, no I won't be digging into those either. For crying out loud, dude, do you really tear into Greek Yogurt and eat green bananas? You been Trader Joe-washed if so. There are better things out there! Like chocolate! And ripe fruit!
So you’re really stocking up here.
Call me chowbox why don't you. I swear. It’s like a black hole for logic in here today. This is not stocking up. This is about 5 days worth of groceries. Or 100 dollars. And just because I am walking out of here with something more than a bunch of flowers, a bottle of wine and wasabi corn chips like the rest of these people (who goes to the grocery store for three things? Who has that kind of time?), just because of that does not mean I am stocking up.
I’m just grocery shopping.
I’ve crossed the line from casual shopper to passive aggressive. I’m hungry, I’m tired of THOSE TWO following me and I’m a little miffed that you were out of toffee today. Get me out of here. The store was buzzing with people, there is an excessive cinnamon smell in the air and there’s a party going on back there by meat and cheese and I wasn't invited.
As I walked out with my stocked up cart (it was three bags?!?!), people were pouring in the doors. I considered going over to the grocery store (ugh) for the pumpkin I forgot but then got my common sense back and said it can wait until…Sunday.
And if I get hungry between now and then, it’s back to condiments. Actually I think our refrigerator this morning had some milk, tahini, goat cheese and a leftover chicken breast (date of origin unknown).
Add a little ketchup and it sounds like a perfect meal in a pinch if you ask me.