Ugh. I avoid this task as long as I possibly can. But eventually it gets to the point where it becomes just too difficult to throw together a meal using only kidney beans, evaporated milk and grape JELL-O (the things that never seem to get used from my pantry), and it becomes too inconvenient to run to the store three times a day just to pick up ingredients for each meal. And no one seems to want that frozen artichoke dip I bought from the Schwann’s man a year ago. (I don’t even like artichokes!)
So, trying to be the “good wife and mom” (which always seems to bite me in the arse) I planned a week’s worth of meals straight from my Rachael Ray magazine, cut and organized coupons, created my list, and left for Wal-Mart.
It was noon.
Pulling in to the parking lot in the rain (of course), I finally found a parking spot about a mile from the store and dashed inside as quickly as I could. I managed to choose a cart with all four wheels actually facing the right direction, which was a good sign, or so I thought . . .
I started in the health and beauty aisles, where I had to choke back the vomit that came up when I saw an old man wistfully studying the K-Y Jelly. Ewwww. But I tried not to let it get to me: To each his own, was to be my motto for the trip. I didn’t get impatient when the young couple was taking WAY too long in front of the tropical birdseed mix and then didn’t even end up grabbing anything off the shelf after they blocked my way to the Grit ‘n’ Gravel. And I just kept my eyes straight ahead when the woman who looked like she’d had one too many late nights reviewed every single flavor of Pop-Tarts to her just-as-strung-out-looking boyfriend. (JUST PICK A FLAVOR, LADY!!!)
However, somewhere between the braunschweiger and the bouillon cubes, I started to break down. Panic started to settle in. I felt like I would never leave. I had forgotten to bring in my iPhone, so I had no sense of time. Of course, there’s not a clock to be had in the whole store. It’s kind of like being at a casino: they don’t want you to know what time it is, how long you’ve been there, or what it looks like outside. I’m surprised they haven’t blacked out all the windows at the front of the store so you don’t know: Is it midnight? Is it 2 in the afternoon? Who knows? Who cares? Let’s spend some more money.
Once I hit the canned goods aisle, I was done for. My cart was already heaped up as high as it could go, and whole-wheat tortillas and pine nuts were spilling onto the floor. (Yes, I bought pine nuts for a recipe. Better be worth it, Rachael, those suckers were expensive!) My hands were cramping from both sifting through my coupon binder with one hand and clenching the coupons with the other. Every so often, a coupon would try to escape, but to no avail. All I had to do was think about walking past a quarter or a dollar bill that I’d dropped onto the floor, and any temptation I had to just leave it and keep on walking would evaporate.
I started studying other people’s faces as they walked by me. And I literally had to hold myself back from asking other women that passed by, “Do you feel like you’re dying too? Or is it just me?” One foot in front of the other, I had to keep encouraging myself. Just a few more items to cross off the list, and then you can go home.
The frozen food aisles saw me literally being held up by my cart as I leaned on it and kind of coasted through the remainder of the store. I was sweating. If I can just make it to the check-out line, I told myself, then I’ll be home free. I can walk out those doors. (Oh, and walk the mile to my car and then transfer my 327 bags to my car all IN THE COLD RAIN. That too.)
When I finally thrust my cart at the cart corral and climbed into my car full of $200+ worth of groceries (although I did save a good $30), I grabbed my phone to look at the time.
You seriously won’t believe what time it was.
Yes, I was in Wal-Mart for THREE HOURS. Just GETTING GROCERIES. No wonder I was suffering from a wee bit of a panic attack. I had just lost practically my entire afternoon, and I hadn’t even unloaded OR put away the groceries yet!
Seriously, what is wrong with me?!? Am I the only one who experiences this?!
When I walked into the house (after stuffing my face with Reese’s Pieces on the way home because, you know, I hadn’t yet eaten LUNCH), I fell into the chair in the family room and whined to Husband about how I couldn’t possibly bring in the groceries because I was sure that I was DYING from stress, exhaustion, and honyock overdose.
So Husband kindly loaded about 75 bags on his arms like some sort of packhorse on steroids (because he prides himself on always only having to make ONE TRIP into the house) while I continued to sigh and lament.
And you know what really stinks? I made one of the recipes tonight, and it sucked. (Don’t worry, though, Rachael. It’s not you, it’s me. Of that I’m sure.)
So, friends, that is the story of this weekend and how I lost a piece of my soul at Wal-Mart.