I consider myself a damn good cook and a semi-professional people-avoider. So what happens when love and hate collide? When it happens to me, it's usually when I’m at the grocery store.
I know my home supermarket Winco like the back of my hand. I could go in there blindfolded and get everything I needed for my famous spaghetti dinner without running into anyone or knocking anything over. Well, unless it’s Saturday.
It can get busy and a little stressful when it’s a full house. I often feel as if I’m playing a game of Frogger, what with my tendency to push my cart briskly through the store and making quick lane changes.
I am not a fan of human interaction at this stage of my life, at least when avoidable.
I’ve found that by pushing a shopping cart at a brisk speed with a determined look on my face, most shoppers will move out of my way. Yet there are always those who have no concept of their place within the grocery store. The ones who will park sideways or diagonally, dead in the middle of each aisle.
These people drive me nuts. I’ve literally pushed my cart past theirs on two wheels to edge past them. Like how the Duke Boys would tilt the General Lee on its side and drive it like this. I pull it off pretty easily.
Here’s how today’s visit went.
My first point of frustration is someone blocking the entrance to the store while using Clorox bleach wipes on the handle of their cart. C’mon, leave the entrance clear. Or wipe that shit down quickly.
Winco is set up so that you have to start to your left and zoom down a long aisle before reaching the produce area. I am not the biggest fan of the produce section. But cooking with onions and mushrooms often, as well as having a daughter who’s very into her fruit consumption, it’s unavoidable.
Why do I dislike the produce area so much? It reminds me of going to the bar. You’re there, scoping out the selection. You’re examining the possible candidates to take home. You hope that you don’t select one that’s been handled, groped, or poked too many times.
The next area I move to is the bathroom product area. With four other people in my household, all female, there is almost always a need for products. Body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and even feminine products.
I don't get men who are weird about buying tampons or pads for their family members. You think I'm judging you while you're trying to decide if you need slim or jumbo tampons? I know they aren't for you.
I'm not going to judge you if your loved one has a wide-set vagina and a heavy menstrual flow. I probably don't even notice you shopping for them, unless I'm right there with you. I have bigger things to worry about.
Next, we head to the aisle I am the most familiar with, the pasta section. When our house specials include spaghetti dinner, baked pizza spaghetti, lasagna, baked ziti, and fettuccini alfredo, you're bound to be familiar with the pasta aisle.
After putting what I need into the cart and giving Chef Boyardee that hand under-the-chin motion that Italians do, I move along. We have more to accomplish.
I head to the beer and wine section of Winco. Living in good 'ol conservative Christian Idaho, I guess we're lucky to even be able to purchase beer or wine. I've previously lived in places where you could buy Grey Goose or Belvedere along with your groceries.
As much as I enjoy my cabernet wine, I suppose it's better I can't easily get my mitts on vodka in the grocery store. I tell a redneck-looking fella "Cute top!" after seeing his Police Lives Matter t-shirt. I grab my vino and move along before he can fully comprehend my backhanded compliment.
Therein lies the secret of grocery shopping. Moving on. I am not one to browse and take my time. I do not shop for a week or a month at a time.
As poor as my memory tends to be at times, there is no way I'd remember all of the ingredients needed for a week's worth of meals. Shit, half the time I can't even remember if I put drawers on before heading to the store.
I pick out some treats for the family as my final part of this trip and I'm ready to check out. I almost always use the self-checkout line to ensure as little human contact as possible. But today it's full, plus a lengthy line. Ugh.
I quickly notice a normal checkout line with only a lady and a small child in line ahead of me. I grab my toddler repellant, spray myself liberally, and hold my breath. I grab a couple of candy bars in line and this proves to be a tactile error of gross negligence on my part.
The toddler saw me do it. He starts reaching for where I grabbed it and starts screaming for candy. His mother, who looks like she's hanging on by a Xanex and a glass of wine tries to reason with him. His yells get louder.
"I WANT IT! I WANT IT! MAMA, I WANT IT!" He shrieks, looking toward me, hoping I'll grab it for him. Sorry Kid, I don't speak Whinese. I look around from side to side as if I don't see him. This escalates things further.
"BUT MAMA! I WANT IT! I WANT ITTTTTTTTTT!"
She looks at me with desperation in her eyes. She's on the verge of tears. I need to help fix this situation, it's time to act.
"SO DO I!!!!! SO DO IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!", I yell.
Jesus, that played out funnier in my head than it actually ended up being. She runs out of the store bawling. Dammit. Now I have to find her in the parking lot and return this shrieking toddler before I can check out.
Once Hurricane Jaxson is reunited with his "relieved" mother, I come back to bag my groceries. I notice some sort of vegetable that I can't quite name off the top of my head in my groceries. Maybe it was a dragonfruit or a jicama.
I hold it up and the lady bagging next to me says, "Oh, I think you got one of mine!" I check the receipt and indeed, I paid for her produce. I assure her that it's totally fine and hand it over to her.
"Oh, thank you so much! Can I pay you some cash?" She seems stressed about this small inconvenience to me.
I reply "Oh, uh no. It's ok. Maybe next time you can buy me an apple or a pear or something." She laughs at my joke and appreciates my kindness. I smiled and shuffle off toward the door, plotting my escape.
Just when I think I'm in the clear, there's a lady trying to sell newspaper subscriptions near the exit. Who in the hell still reads newspapers? I just want to get to my car.
I hold up my vino and tell her, "Oh no, I'm good. I gotta get home and drink all of this wine." I smile like Shrek and she smiles awkwardly back while saying a silent prayer for my eternal soul and likely my liver.
I make this type of trip to our grocery store at least 200 times a year. That's a lot of cart-dodging, dozens of two-wheel shopping cart maneuvers, and a handful of toddlers to reunite with their mothers who have noticeable eye twitches. &:^)