Fulfilling my society-assigned role of gatherer has never been a task I enjoy. I don’t think anyone actually likes grocery shopping, especially on the weekends. Yet there is something about the grocery store that just makes people turn stupid.
When I miss the opportunity to grocery shop during the work day, I am forced to go when everyone else does, on Saturday or Sunday. Yet, I have found that later Saturday afternoon is a bit less crowded and therefore not the frustrating, teeth grinding experience it normally is. But for many reasons, the last misadventure to the local Market Basket was a particularly anxiety and anger provoking time for me.
Let’s start with the parking lot, before I even get inside the store. I deal with people driving with the brake on to find the absolute nearest parking spot. People, please do not stop while turning into the lanes, make the dang turn and get out of my way and don’t block everyone else that is trying to leave or park. Pedestrians, kindly focus on crossing the street and not your cell phones. Again, get out of the way.
I treat the aisles of stores like I do these American roads: stay to the right side and stop at the end of lanes to avoid colliding with another shopper. So I roll my cart on the right side of the aisle, grabbing what I need, pulling myself well out of the way when I need to look for or compare items. Yet, many people wonder in haphazard directions and leave their carts in the middle of the aisle. I now move carts without checking with their owners or simply bump them while passing, no apologies. When entering the dairy section, about three people tried to go in the same direction and one person did not seem to know where she was going. At this point, I stopped the cart and kindly asked “Where is everyone going?” which made people start moving. By now, I was taking deep breaths and gripping the cart handle quite hard.
I really, really craved some Pilgrim’s Captain Morgan spiced chicken wings, which I bought and rather enjoyed a few weeks ago. But for some reason, it is no longer stocked or carried. Sigh, can’t people keep the cool stuff in stock? Nope. Had to settle for the same old, same old chicken. Another deep breath, squeezed the eyes shut and clamped my jaw tight to keep from shouting obscenities at grocers just trying to do their job.
Which brings me to the next point of why grocery shopping makes my chest tighten with anxiety: where is (insert needed item here)? Protein meal bars for lunch one example. Commonly, they are located next to the granola bars on the cereal aisle. This makes perfect sense. But wait, the brand I want are not here. An inquiry with the young stock gentleman teaches me that they are on row 9 with health and beauty. What?! There’s FOOD stocked on the same shelves as deodorant, zit cream and feminine hygiene products? GROSS! Does this make a lick of sense? Now I shake my head, tremble and gain control of my breathing.
I continue my duty of gathering food for my family, weaving around people stocking the shelves. It seems that no matter what time of day I shop, workers are always refilling the shelves, with one cart full of the item and another holding the item’s empty boxes. And I feel bad, or like a pesky bee as I ask for a product or reach by them while they are busy. I realize they are simply performing a much-needed job for society and don’t like bothering them, even though they don’t seem to mind.
And lastly, the produce section. This area takes patience, as we must hold, squeeze, examine, or smell the fruits and veggies to guarantee we are getting the food in its best condition. But let us recap the situation: shoppers blocking the aisle, workers stocking the shelves, people needing time to inspect the produce, plus grocery carts and people stumbling over the upturned rugs that keep the floor of the produce aisle dry. And I just need a couple more things before I am done and can blow this crazy joint! I eyed the ripening bananas, unable to reach them. Heart pounded, chest compressed and did not allow needed air to flow into the lungs. Fingers circled around the cart handle in a death grip. I part my lips, ready to threaten maiming of limbs if I didn’t get my damn bananas.
But instead, I feel it from deep inside, rumbling into my throat: a growl. Perhaps others heard it. Perhaps God himself parted the Red Sea of humans. For the way spot in front of the awesome fruit cleared.
Now that I have my groceries, all appears good; I breathe normally and my heart rate is contained. Until the boy filling my grocery bags cannot lift one from the belt. It is too heavy.
“If it’s too heavy for you to lift, then its too heavy for me,” I have to obviously point out to this youth, who made no attempt to rearrange my groceries and heaved it into my cart.
“I am assuming you have a husband or something at home that can help you,” he replies.
I narrowed my eyes at him and imagined suffocating him with a plastic bag.
Okay, I think to myself as I rearrange the groceries after getting to my Beetle. But then I realize I have to keep stopping my grocery cart from rolling away or into the car while trying to pack my trunk. Because these darn Yankees put a grocery store at the top of a fairly inclined hill.
When finally making it into the sanctuary of my Beetle, I leaned my head almost to the steering wheel and swallow all my frustrations so I don’t commit vehicular manslaughter on the mere two-mile trip back home.

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