FW: Super Sunday at the Supermarket
I am sure that I have mentioned before that my wife has little patience with me on the weekends. Nothing sets her off like her having to ask me to lift my legs so that she can vacuum under them, or get out of bed at 11:00 a.m. , so that she can make same. She seems to believe that simply because she is working, I should not be sitting around watching old movies, reading books or nodding off in an easy chair. Sunday was a typical day. About 10:30 she decided that if I really had so little to do that I could be watching television, I could go to the grocery store.
I like grocery shopping. That is because it is like preparing for a party, buying all the neat things that catch your eye. But shopping for Rayda is a whole different thing. It is a no win situation. If you stick to the list she asks why you did not show more creativity. If you go off the list she questions any purchase. She is a terrible grocery store second guesser. I either bought the wrong product, spent too much money on an item, bought an item that I don’t need (too many calories or is too expensive) or one that will spoil before I get to it. Consequently, shopping is an anxiety filled experience.
I got to Central Market early enough on Sunday to have beaten the Super Bowl party givers. None the less, the experience was woeful. Sunday was the last day that you could use the $10 off coupon for produce which the store sent out last week (the coupon, not the produce), and the normally placid produce aisles were filled with vicious shoppers trying to get their money’s worth of free fruit and vegetables. It does not help that a family of four could live in the carts the Central Market gives you to shop with. I spent most of my time trying to find an open space just to get out of people’s way. There were also battles at the weighing stations. One particular old lady pushed past me twice to weigh some vegetables. Then a couple of scales ran out of tape and so the other scales were crowded by people with large carts and sharp elbows. Finally, an eight year old pushing a cart stared me down and said “excuse me” in a way that did not really mean “excuse me” but in fact meant “you are an ass, blocking my way, move it”. It was then that it hit me that these big grocery stores really need more formal policing.
If I owned a big grocery store, I would hire off duty cops to come in on the weekends. They could keep the cart wrecks under control by supplying basic concepts of traffic control. They could keep people from cutting in the lines to the scales and they would just act as a general deterrent to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. They could really help out at the meat counter.
Central market has this amazing meat area where you can buy any kind of flesh which can be pulled off of an animal or fish. You have to take a number to get served by the understaffed butcher’s department. I drew number 68 on Sunday and they were only up to 52. Things went quickly until customer 65, an idiot couple who had apparently never had any meat before, based on their questions to the butcher. A good cop would have been there to “move it along, you are holding up traffic” and maybe give them a not so gentle poke with a billy club.. Another problem appeared when we got to number 67. A 20 something year old 400 pound man answered the call. He looked like Orson Wells would have looked if Orson had gotten fat at 25, rather than have waited for 40.. Now, when there is a long line, I think that you should be limited to two items at most. This guy, who reminded me a lot of the “Big Boy” who used to hold up that fiberglass hamburger outside the coffee shops, only a lot fatter, bought seven different selections, and that was probably just for dinner. I had to cool my heels while he fussed over beef ribs and pork loins and New York Strips. The way he looked at them, I figured that he would eat a couple before he even checked out. There is nothing more irritating that a freely perspiring fat man holding up the meat line when all you want is two lousy pork chops. If the store had hired a cop he could have straightened the situation out right away. After the second or third order he could have banged the top of the glass meat display and yelled out “O.K. Newman, two orders is enough, now why don’t you take your cart over to the bulk items and buy some sunflower seeds. You might want to stop and pick up some aspirin too while you are at it, you could need one at any minute the way you are sweating.” That would have fixed “Big Boy’s” wagon.
The worst part of the experience was a mistake I made at the salsa aisle. Central Market makes these salsas and I was thinking that I should buy some Pico de Gallo to go with the two free avocados I was going to be eating on Monday night. I took one of the plastic containers and began the process of filling it with Pico. Then it hit me. Rayda had purchased some tortilla soup “fixins” last week (for what reason I don’t know, she never made the soup) which contained about a cup of diced tomato and everything else you would need for Pico. It was sitting there in the refrigerator, just waiting for my guacamole. I panicked and stopped filling the container. I would catch hell for bringing this redundant item home. I looked around and sure enough there were four people behind me. I could not casually throw the Pico back into the Pico receptacle as I would have if no one had been looking. I decided to put the lid on my container and weigh it. “Just needed a little” I laughed, moving away from a family of healthy, organic type eaters. They looked at me with suspicion. Who buys half an ounce of Pico de Gallo ? I assume that if my wish for a cop had been granted, I’d have been taken in for questioning. “All right there mister, just what are you going to do with six cents worth of Pico de Gallo ? You can’t even cover a chip with that. You plan on using that to make a bomb ?” But there was no cop, so I wheeled off.
The final nightmare was the checkout line. No matter how careful I am about picking a line, I always get the worst one. If I find one with a lady with one can of beans, and nothing else, standing in front of me with her exact change, the register’s computer is bound to crash, leaving me standing there with ice cream melting, for twenty minutes. Sunday was no different. What appeared to me a perfectly normal shopper turned out to be a pin head who had to keep running back to pick up items she had forgotten or arguing over prices. I was in line for most of the afternoon.
I survived the grilling when I got home. I managed to put everything up before Rayda came down stairs so she could not get a head start on me. She looked around and made some comments about a few items, “What did you pay for this ?” being the most gentle of the questions. I got in enormous trouble for the pork chops which Rayda said had to be consumed no later than 45 minutes after purchase or else we would die from triganosis. ‘What did you pay for these, twenty dollars ?” No, just seven, I had cunningly asked for the smallest ones. I then escaped what I thought was certain doom over buying low fat buttermilk, instead of buttermilk. How can you even make low fat buttermilk ? The whole idea of buttermilk is that it is milk turned to butter fat. In that respect, low fat buttermilk is like decaffeinated coffee (or DEEcaf as we call it in Texas). It defeats the whole purpose of the product, just like non- alcohol beer. But that’s for another blog. I am set with groceries for another week.