It’s a Gamble

“The more I live, the more I think that humor is the saving sense.” — Jacob August Riis

Grocery shopping is a dirty word in our house. No one mentions it until the only things left in the refrigerator are sticky shelves, and the pantry grumbles from hunger pangs. I am the chosen one to brave the crazed crowds. Luckily, I no longer have young children to tow along. That gives me an edge.  

From the time I get into the car until I get home, grocery shopping is a gamble. It begins with parking. Will I get a spot near the front door, or will I end up in the back forty of the big box store lot?  

I have two main objectives:  Get in. Get out.

With list in hand, I survey the crowd to determine my plan of action. There are things to consider when you’re on a grocery cart roll. There are the dawdlers – the people who can’t decide what they want. There are the middle-of-the aislers – those guilty of obstruction with cart. There are the crashers – those who should be required to carry cart insurance. There are the family clanners – those who arrive in big groups and swarm around like busy bees, creating mayhem. There are the cell phoners – those who wander aimlessly while carrying on personal conversations. Then there are those like me who just want to get in and get out. This can be the source of cart rage. Keep your hands on the cart, eyes on the aisle, and watch those wheels!

Will this be a good shopping day or not? I expertly sniff my way through the bakery section. I peel through the bananas and steer my way around the produce, tossing fresh food into my cart. Things are going well. I’m in aisle twenty-five and almost finished. Then I realize I’ve forgotten something in aisle two. I rev up my engine and burn rubber. I make a detour at the cleanup in aisle six, grab my forgotten item in aisle two, and head for the checkout.

This is a crucial moment. Which checkout line will be the fastest? I skip the line with the screaming kids and pull up behind a couple whose groceries aren’t spilling over the sides of their cart. There is a little old lady in front of them, checking out. This shouldn’t take long. Ah, but then she discovers she bought the wrong brand of orange juice and can’t use her coupon. She insists on getting the right brand. We wait. And wait. And wait. The lines get longer. I browse through a magazine to pass the time. When the couple in front of me finally begins checking out, they divide their groceries into three piles. Yours. Mine. Ours.


Then I hear the man behind me grumbling, “Peapod home delivery is the way to go.”

Hmmm… Is it worth the gamble?

Shopping for books?

For the littlest:  What’s in Grandma’s Grocery Bag? by Hui-Mei Pan (Star Bright Books, 2004)

Picture Books:  Shopping with Dad by Matt Harvey (Barefoot Books, 2008), Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2006), Supermarket! by Charlotte Doyle (Candlewick, 2004)

Educational:  Supermarket  by Kathleen Krull (Holiday House, 2001), Grocery Store (Field Trip!) by Angela Leeper (Heinemann Educational Books, 2004)

Explore posts in the same categories: Life, Picture Books

2 Comments on “It’s a Gamble”

  1. Julie Bowe Says:

    As one who is heading out the door in a few minutes to buy groceries, your post was particularly timely! Thanks for the smiles! 🙂
    ~ The Dawdler

  2. denisedthornton Says:

    I like your way with words. Humor is a rare gift, and you have got it.
    But I would urge you to find another way to procure your vituals. Do you have a small family store in your area? Is there a farmers market?
    I actually look forward to food shopping because I buy most of my food at the farmers’ market (lucky me to live in Madison where it goes on all year long).
    My husband and I go every Saturday morning, and though we often have a full day ahead and swear we are going to be quick this time, we end up yacking with the farmers who have become our friends and leave with bags full of food and heads full of ideas.

    In many cultures, the market is a huge social element of life. I think we have really lost out in our demand for cheap convenience. The alienation you describe so well is funny and also not so funny. I guess it really is true that often, we laugh to keep from crying.

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