Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Whiskey Aisle

When grocery shopping with my two-year-old, I often find myself searching, in vain, for the elusive Whiskey Aisle. It must be there somewhere.

As I search, I walk aisle upon aisle in a mad dash to the finish picking up tossed Cheerios, tossed milk cup, tossed loaves of bread as I go. I report the spilled plastic cup of pureed peaches that was hurled out of the cart in aisle eight. I pass heaping handfuls of deli turkey to my little beggar in the front seat. I sing a varied assortment of Sound of Music, Black-Eyed Peas, and "Itsy Bitsy Spider," and I narrate every last move I make:

“Oh, Finny! Let’s get some ground beef! Doesn’t that sound good? How about some coffee? Do you think we should get some apple juice? Can you find the apple juice? Where is it? Tide Coldwater or with Febreze or with Bleach Alternative? Doesn’t matter, does it? How many pears should we get? Can you count them? No, honey, don’t throw the apples!”

Yesterday, as I busily tried to get us through the last leg of our trip—produce and dairy—Finny decided to hold the bag of lettuce and munch like a rabbit. Only rabbits swallow the lettuce they munch. As I peeled chewed romaine from the top of his shirt and the floor of the cart, I realized that I had long ago abandoned any type of bargain hunting.

Organic green pepper? Fine! Can’t find the regular kind and this one looks kind of squashed and pricey but it’ll do. Don’t I have a coupon for Kraft shredded cheese? But I have to buy two to get a dollar off and it’s more expensive than the Kroger brand. I also have a coupon for Sargento… No time for basic math. Just need a bag of cheese.

Finally, I make it to the check-out and I wonder as I stand in the slowest line behind the check-writer who forgot spaghetti noodles, Why don’t they keep the candy and the gift cards in a glass case? I huff and puff as I pick Trident and Home Depot cards off the floor, Finny still reaching desperately for just one more leaf of romaine to chew up and spit out.

The bagger asks me if he can help me to my car. Normally, I would decline. Yesterday, six months pregnant and whiskeyless, I looked at him with pleading eyes, remembering that I’ve parked on a hill, “Yes, please.”

He helped me to my car and then kindly put my groceries in the back seat while I got Finny situated. David asked me later if I had tipped him. It occurred to me at the time, but instead I gave him a heartfelt thank you and got in my car, breathing a sigh of relief for the five minutes I would get to spend in the car before I had to attempt to carry it all in and put it away before lunch.

I’d like to think that not everyone expects a tip for kindness. I’d like to think that this nice man truly knew what a long journey I’d been on and enjoyed nothing more than the look of sincere gratitude on my face.

Besides, I spent my extra tip money on a $10 bag of shredded cheese, and I was sick to death at that point of reaching into my bag in search of treats. God bless you, sir, for all that you do to help the poor pregnant mothers of toddlers at the grocery store. And to the men and women who design a grocery store without glass-cased check-out aisles and a full service bar smack in the middle? A pox on your houses.