There is No Crying in Grocery Shopping

Posted on January 14, 2012


Once a week Lady Sisyphus leaves her job as a stone pusher to become a cart pusher. Somebody has to buy the groceries!

I am lucky because I share the shopping task with my friend, Lol-ly Wit. (She is witty and always makes me LOL!)  Each week, we fuel up on obscene amounts of caffeine and release ourselves into the aisles of  the Big Food Cornucopia, BF Corn for short. Foraging has never been so fun.

BF Corn is huge. Super huge. For someone like me who has at least 103 ADD moments a day, the store is overwhelmingly huge. One redeeming quality is that it is employee-owned. That alone keeps me coming back. Well, that and their incredibly low prices, pretty packages and shopping with Lol-ly Wit who keeps me on task in spite of the pretty packages.

Lol-ly Wit and I have had a few adventures at the BF Corn. Sometimes I think I should write a book about it. Here are a few chapters I’ve already outlined…

My pants have fallen and they can’t get up.

One week, Lol-ly Wit’s pants fell down while we were shopping. Seriously. I didn’t witness it, so at first I didn’t believe her. One minute we were standing in line to check out and the next she mumbled something to me and then skedaddled to the restroom. Poof. When she came back she told me that it was time for new pants, at least pants with a better waistband so they wouldn’t leave her high and dry. When I balked in disbelief, Lol-ly Wit assured me that indeed, her pants had fallen down on the way to the restroom; she was well-acquainted with the feeling of fresh air on bare skin, especially skin that never sees the flourescent light of day, thank-you-very-much.

She’s not sure if anybody witnessed her unfurling or if she’s now a minor video star thanks to the BF Corn closed circuit security camera. Perhaps there’s a store “Wanted” poster with her picture on it. Maybe there’s a “People of BF Corn” You Tube video making the rounds. All I know is that we laughed so hard on the way home my eyeballs hurt. I felt equal parts sorry and hysterical. I don’t think there’s a proper Hallmark sentiment for such an occasion.

Hopefully, what happens in BF Corn stays in BF corn.

The cashier doth protest too much.

Another week, Lol-ly Wit and I were accosted by a cashier at the check out. Lol-ly Wit was lamenting – to me – her son Little Wit’s temporary lack of car insurance. Before we could break down Little Wit’s situation and solve the world’s problems, the cashier broke in with a brief sermon on the sins of the insurance-free. Clearly the wages of sin were death. And a lot of it. Blood. Guts. Knashing of teeth. We got an earful. We looked at each other, bewildered by his diatribe. Is a cashier allowed to express an opinion when he has not been invited to the conversation? Especially such a colorful opinion? We never answered the question but you can be sure we have avoided that cashier’s line ever since. The wages of a passionate cashier’s opinion is our defection.

Beware, the aisles of March.

Usually Lol-ly Wit and I shop early in the morning. We breeze in. We breeze out. Sometimes due to work schedules or holidays, we have to shop later in the day. Bummer for us.

The post-lunch shopping crowd is a different breed. First, there is no “breezing”, only constant navigating because there are a lot of shoppers. It’s usually a 50-50 mix of moms and elderly couples. Occasionally a deer-in-headlights dad is in the mix.

The moms are either happily alone or soothing thrashing children who are ready to hit the exit for nap-land. Both mom-types are usually on a mission. Happy Solo Mom tends to take her time. She’s bribed the baby-sitter (or has school-age kids), is armed with a list and enjoying a little peace and quiet as she attends to every aisle. Conversely, Hell-Bent Mission Mom is list-free and flying through the aisles, quickly tossing items into her cart. She aggressively shoulders in when people take too long looking over the bacon or ice cream. No list. No Plan. Just food. A lot of it. NOW. Happy Solo Mom gives Hell-Bent Mission Mom a wide berth.

There is an outlier group of moms, the “teachable moment” moms. They are quiet souls with detailed lists who seem oblivious to the loud young things who occupy their carts. When Thing One grabs and tosses an undesired object into the cart, Teachable Moment Mom admonishes with a laugh, “Now. Now. We don’t need that. You need to learn the value of a dollar.” This is followed by a two minute lesson on wants vs. needs and – by-golly – the value of a dollar! (The tell-tale sign of  Teachable Moment Mom is the sing-songy voice.) Meanwhile, Thing Two has tossed five more items into the cart and is spelunking his way to the aisle floor.

I envy Teachable Moment Mom. When my kids were younger, I was frequently oblivious but never patient. Luckily, I have graduated from Hell-Bent Mission Mom to Happy Solo Mom.

The elderly couple shoppers tend to fall into two categories: Mr. and Mrs. Fancy Pants or Mr. and Mrs. Cranky Pants. Mr. and Mrs. Fancy Pants are well-dressed, cordial and they work as a team. The Mrs. carefully checks off each item on her list while the helpful Mr. retrieves items, consults and encourages. They always nod and say hello to other shoppers. I am hoping I graduate to this level some day. Lord Sisyphus probably has a different take on the matter.

Mr. and Mrs. Cranky Pants are out to right some long ago wrong. They have taken leave of their good manners (and good sense) and freely run into other shoppers, including small children. They loudly voice their disgust and park their cart in the middle of every aisle (sometimes next to oblivious Teachable Moment Mom who is also parked in the middle of the aisle.) They complain at the meat counter because it’s not precisely a half-pound, do it again.  The beans are too expensive. Does anybody work here? There are too many stupid people at the BF Corn today. I think Mr. Cranky Pants killed Mrs. Cranky Pants because she’s rarely by his side.

Sadly, this is probably where I will end up. Clean-up on aisle 10.

In spite of the many BF Corn events, employees and shopper personalities, the drudgery of grocery shopping has been made immensely fun and entertaining with Lol-ly Wit. We’ve discussed everything from recipes and child-rearing to religion and politics. We’ve solved numerous world problems while noodling a single loaf of bread’s ingredient list.

Thanks to Lol-ly Wit, there is no crying in grocery shopping, only a great deal of laughing. Well, maybe there’s a little bit of crying when it’s really really cold and snowing.