I get it. He’s had a long day at work. When he comes through the door, shuffles past the bounding children overjoyed to see Daddy, it is actually nice that he thinks to ask me how my day was. And, despite owning and operating two businesses, I also, like most moms, am charged with the house needs, too. I clean. I launder. I cook. I bake. I grocery shop. It is sadly that last of those things that makes me the most insane.
I long ago gave up shopping for our groceries on the weekends. Despite feeling robbed of my “down” (excuse me as I try not to pee my pants laughing) time, I find stores around here to be an absolute mess over the weekends. It seems the only time most can shop is Saturday and Sunday, so lines are long, items are out of stock, and people are generally in a bad mood since they had to grab groceries for the week on their “day off.”
Instead, I’ve shoved my duties to Monday. Monday is my house day. I’m supposed to reorder the disaster that occurred over the weekend. I do the household laundry. I change the sheets, towels and tidy the house. Sometimes, if ambitious, I will even clean and make up for the chores a 9- and 6-year-old accomplish, yet leave a tad bit to desire.
Then, I muster up the courage to face grocery shopping. I check coupons and flyers. I ready my phone apps to save even more. I alternate my stores between the two I find the best bargains at, one being a box store I wish I didn’t have to shop at. Said unnamed box store has great deals, but there are days I’d prefer to cut off a limb than navigate its aisles.
I rummage up my reusable bags, list-in-hand, and head to the car. It is Monday. It is cold. And, it is raining. But, alas, we are out of, well, just about everything, so the shopping must be done.
I circle the lot a few times before I find what seems an approachable parking spot, close enough to the doors so that I may enter box store without looking like a drowned rat. Since I’ve yet to shower and am still donning fleece, pink pajama pants, I am not sure why I now care, but nevertheless, after a few laps, I find one that doesn’t have a cart in it.
I review my list, watching my car neighbor leave his cart right in the spot next to him, jerk, and shake it off, determined to get in and out in under $100 bucks.
The deli line is only two deep, so I point my cart in its direction, hoping to beat out a few slower moving blue-hairs on my way.
Twenty minutes and $10 later, I’m still hopeful for deals as I peruse the produce. I have to find fruits my kids will eat and that don’t look too banged up. Mission semi-accomplished, I weave my way in and out of the remaining aisles, checking my list, vowing to stay focused on only what we need. (What? I need caramel-filled, soft-baked cookies, OK?!)
Somehow, I always get to dairy, in need of at least two gallons of milk that my ever-growing son will somehow down in the coming two days or so, without any space in the cart. I decide the lower rack will do, and shove the gallons less than gracefully under the cart.
Then my oh so favorite part of the box store experience … finding a check out aisle. And, as always, the store does not disappoint. Even though it created over 30 individual check-out aisles, I’ve never in my life seen more than two open at one time. This day, there are of course four “20 items or less” lights on, and ONE, count ‘em folks, one aisle that is for typical shoppers.
I begrudgingly make my way to the single-lit open aisle, and wait for five other cart-fulls to check out, before it is my turn to hoist my items to the belt. A child, I’d ballpark to be 12, bags my groceries in a way that both makes me wonder why he isn’t in middle school with other 12-year-olds, but convinces me he’s also never had to carry a single bag of groceries into his house. I make a mental note to grab by bag bottoms, so that they don’t rip. Because, as always, I’ve packed reusable bags … but they are in my truck, so I’m stuck with the cheapo, made-to-rip, did-anyone-ever-test-these-on-actual-groceries bags? instead.
With an over filled cart, and over-long receipt, and $77.16 over in spending, I begrudgingly make my way to the truck. The recent “sprinkle” has turned into full-force, hurricane-like wind rain. I now have to navigate the same “cars-and-people-come-here-to-die” parking lot, in said down pour, without the use of my glasses which are now both speckled with droplets and fogged up beyond use.
Drenched, I open the back hatch, remind myself for the millionth time to get the damn football equipment out of my trunk, and shove groceries into place. By now, half the bags have ripped, most boxes are soggy, and that milk on the bottom has fallen out three times now. I feel (and probably look) just like Kathy Bates in “Fried Green Tomatoes” when the rude boy calls her a “old bitch” and she mourns her Stove Top, soaking wet in the grocery store parking lot. I roll my eyes noting that, not only am I overweight, over drenched and frustrated, but I have Stove Top in my bag …
I rush my cart back to the runneth-over cart return, bound and determined to not be that jerk before me, and return to the car more than damp. I take a moment to scan my receipt to the “Savings Catcher” (gotta hope for a few more discounts) before carefully reversing out of the chaos lot.
After the usual, Greater Philadelphia suburbs, I’ve-lost-my-damn-mind-because-its-raining traffic, I find myself home, and think to back in this time in order not to further flood my groceries for the week.
After several wet trips, I now cannot tell what soaking is sweat and what is rain. I quickly attempt to sort and store the groceries, but due to a lack in counter space, a leftovers-filled fridge and general state of disorder in my kitchen, including breakfast plates still in the sink, complete with stuck-on egg, it is easier said than done. As I open the fridge, the phone rings, and if by some cosmic “F@%#^ You,” the top shelf of the fridge door bursts, spilling its bottled contents all over the floor.
As I scrub the shelves, floor and what bottles I can salvage, I’m reminded the cheap, linoleum floor needs a good scrubbing, but that will have to wait, as I’m now drenched in rain, sweat, soy sauce and Italian dressing.
I store the remaining goods, only to remember the laundry needs to be switched over. I rush down the steps, throw a load of blankets into the dryer, reach up, and remember I’m out of fabric softener. FML ….
So, when my loving husband comes home, he’ll ask what I did today. I’ll say “went grocery shopping,” and he’ll think, but if he wants to stay married or not sleep on the couch not say “that’s it.” Maybe he’ll someday read my column, though, and then he (and I hope other working-out-of-the-house spouses) will smile and think, damn glad that wasn’t me.
Grocery shopping is harder than it looks, folks.
Melissa S. Treacy is the co-owner and publisher of Treacy Media Holdings, operator of TAP into Lower Providence and North Penn. She resides in Lower Providence with her son, 9, and daughter, 6, and husband and co-owner James Treacy. Melissa graduated summa cum laude from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She previously was employed by Montgomery Newspapers, as a reporter and then managing editor for the Spring-Ford Reporter and Valley Item. She then worked for Broad Street Publishing as an executive editor for My Community Trend, a Sunday suburban community insert to the Philadelphia Inquirer. After the Inquirer, Melissa was the Regional Editor for Montgomery County Patch.com sites, a chain of hyperlocal community news sites operated by AOL. She enjoys coaching her children's sports teams, playing with her half rot/half black lab Kaya, cooking new recipes and hanging out with her Rogers Road neighborhood. Contact her anytime at email@example.com.
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