I had prepared a list. It was a combination list of things I could pick up now as well as things I intended to pick up early next week. After all, who wants to pick up celery eight whole days before the first stalk will be used? The crisper drawers in our refrigerators just don’t work like they’re supposed to, so the list was divided appropriately.
I probably wouldn’t have even gone to the store after work at all except that my youngest needed a couple of things for school. Food class, to be more precise. Rolls, Poptarts, and Doritos. Nice, huh? I’m not sure those things go well together, but hey, I’m not the teacher.
I know most of you probably live in a much larger metropolitan area than I do, so I really shouldn’t complain. I’m almost positive that regardless of where you are, there are more people who occupy there than who occupy here. However, the one thing I can count on is that at 5:00 p.m., I can automatically add half an hour to the travel time it should take to get wherever I want to go within a five mile radius.
While long and tedious, mostly the trip to the store was uneventful; however, getting into the parking lot required driving skills that I’ve spent the last thirty years accumulating. You know how ants look when they’re carrying something back to their nest? That’s what the parking lot must’ve looked like from the sky. All those people pushing all those shopping carts out to all those cars.
I squeezed through the mess slowly and wedged my vehicle into a spot that wasn’t too far from the parking lot’s cart corral. I don’t mind parking some distance from the door. What I mind is the knowledge that the farther I get away from one of those corrals, the more carts there are littering the parking spaces because their previous pushers were just too lazy to roll them the few required feet to get them to the appropriate place. Besides, the walk would do me some good. I gathered my coupons; made sure I had my list, firmly held my purse against me lest I drop it while beating the crap out of a would-be mugger, and braved my way into the store.
There were only three unoccupied carts.
As if the state of the parking lot hadn’t already prepared me for the worst, I had just entered a major grocery store the week before Thanksgiving. What – a – mess.
I was thinking that I could just zip through and between the other shoppers, pick up the few necessary items on my combination list, say excuse me a lot, and then leave the remainder for, I don’t know, let’s say Sunday morning at 6 a.m. I could be sure to only be shopping with the zombies at that hour.
Bread was on the later portion of my list and was one of those items that really could have waited, but there were only four loaves left on the shelf. An image flashed in my head of the next bread truck’s contents being scattered across a busy highway, thousands of birds pecking away at their new-found bounty.
Two of the loaves went into my cart.
I wasn’t planning on getting the turkey, the ham, or the green beans yet, either. But everything was in such short supply, I really felt like I had no choice. I almost went ahead and got the Christmas turkey, too. More and more items on my list were being moved from the later section to the now section. On top of that, my excuse me’s were falling on deaf ears. It seemed as though everyone there that day had read my rant about too-crowded stores and was each staging his own revolt by planting himself firmly in the middle of the aisle so that no one else could pass through.
I was a little proud.
There was even a line at the butcher’s counter. I stepped into it. Folks behind me sighed heavily when I stopped moving and managed to maneuver their way around. Some of them excused themselves as they went by. Others cursed. I remained polite and friendly and ignored the mayhem that surrounded me. Not only did I get a great deal on the thicker cut bacon I didn’t really need just yet, I also got a great deal on some ground round that wasn’t necessary at all.
My cart was full when I approached the check-out lanes. All of them were backed up but seemed to be moving quickly. My turkey had a really good chance of not completely thawing out before I got it home.
Getting it to my car unscathed would be the trick.
With the cart safely stowed in the corral where it belonged, I settled into the driver’s seat and reviewed my list. The only things left were celery and onions.
I wasn’t kidding about Sunday morning at 6.