Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Root Beer Thanksgiving

Last week I flushed toilet paper down a commode that didn't accept toilet paper, flooded a foreign bathroom and decided to retell the story on the world wide web. 

Just when I thought I couldn't get any more mindless, this week I decided to go to Meijer.
On a Monday evening. 
On the Monday evening before Thanksgiving. 
I'm a glutton for punishment.

The wind blew ferociously at 5:10 PM as I pulled into the mega Meijer parking lot, which was 90% full. People flooded like dizzy flies to the bright lights of the storefront. 
I didn't have a long list, still I had divided it into sections and aisles using my best recollection.
Simple things like Irish steel cut oats, lacy swiss and marjoram leaf.
Seemed easy enough. 
Except nothing - including the Irish steel cut oats, lacy swiss and marjoram leaf - were where I expected them to be. 

Which lead to this:

Anticipated, organized route:                                                Actual, horrible route:


The red circles indicate visible tension, verbalized swear words or me trying to imitate the look of disapproval Dear 'Ol Dad used countless times between years 1988 and 1998. Yep, I used that. 
Seemed to work in by the specialty cheeses, not so much in the cereal aisle. People who eat Kellogg's SMORZ are so rigid.

I walked down the potato chip aisle four times and didn't have a single bag of potato chips on my list. In aisle six I almost apologized to a gal for crushing her five bags of powered donuts between her two cases of root beer, but then I realized she had five bags of powered donuts and two cases of root beer in her cart. No tap of my cart could have ruined the diabetic sugar high she was about to experience. 

I made it to the refrigeration section (for the first time that night) and couldn't get to the butter because two gals who had gone to nurse's training together in 1977 were reuniting for the first time since then. 
"Move it to Facebook, ladies!" I said (in my head) as I nudged my way between them to get a box of butter. I gave it two seconds of consideration then grabbed a second box in case snow comes before Thursday. Never know. 

Powdered sugar. 
All afterthoughts which returned me to the battlefield. 

It's been years - sincerely - since I used anything but self-checkout at Meijer. By the time I reach that point in my shopping, I try to interact with as few folks as possible. I gauge the line length, the characters in it, and the items in their cart. I work hard to get behind blue collar men who have nothing but milk, antacids and beer in their cart, but sometimes luck just isn't in my favor. 
This was one of those nights. 

The first gal in front of me purchased her groceries using two different payment methods: EBT and cash. There was a stark nutritional difference between the items she bought with cash, and the ones she bought with EBT. 
Fact: A head of lettuce costs a fraction of the price of a bag of powered donuts. Or a case root beer. Just sayin'.
She had two young girls with her, maybe four and six years old. They defined hyper and defied rules. To pacify the two, the gal gave them each a plastic bag. Wanna guess where the bags instantly went? Yes - right over their heads. 
It made me sad. 
I was strangely relieved when the gal gave them each a quarter to ride Sandy. 

Sandy has been abused. 
Especially during the holidays. 

My chance at the register. 
Except the machine wouldn't take my MPerks number. I tried it again. 
Annnnd one more time before tapping the HELP button. 
By the time help-girl-Mandy made it to my aisle, the register shut down. 
"I'm sorry, our registers keep restarting due to usage tonight. You'll have to move to another line."
I had one hundred thoughts running though my head; none of which I'd say aloud in front of the Original Jean

I moved to the next line and waited behind a woman who chose not to scan her food, but rather "search" for it in the register. It became a word game. 
A Wheel of Food Fortune, of sorts. 
Exept, she spelled as well as I due: Tiribly. 

She ate like a champ but she spelled like an orangutan. 
She also collected every coupon Meijer had issued in the last six months. Couldn't blame the woman, though I totally did after fifteen more minutes in line. 

My MPerks were rejected at that particular register, too. The machine couldn't handle a "7".
After several tries, Mandy returned and entered a magical code that stopped the beeping and lowered my blood pressure. 
The only reason why I didn't absolutely lose my head at that point was 



2. One of work's very best customers was ironically using the self-checkout line right next to me. What luck. He and his wife greeted me, 
no doubt wondering why I looked so strung out and stressed. 
They - on the other hand - looked relieved and refreshed: HARVEST 2014 IS OVER
I smiled and tugged at my hair, trying to wisp it out of my face. 
They asked how Argentina was; I'm fairly certain that 
they thought I had just stepped off of the 10-hour flight. 
Nope, just grocery shopping in my own personal hell. 

By the time I made it to the exit doors - AKA FREEDOM - I had only forgotten one thing: the insulated casserole dish carrier I was fixin' to unintentionally shoplift because I left it on the bottom rack of my cart. I picked it up and handed it to the greeter and let her know I didn't have time cycle through hell again. 
Something about my tone caused her to not ask any questions and smile extra wide. 
It was annoying. 

I got onto the interstate and headed home and Cody called shortly after. 

"Weird as this sounds, someone just posted about a black cow on Facebook. The kind with ice-cream and root beer. Any chance you picked up root beer at the grocery tonight?"

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