Going to the grocery store makes me angry. In fact, I’m often mad before I pass through the sliding doors. It usually begins with my inability to effectively park my car in the lot.
Stricken with age-related parking anxiety, I find it impossible to fit between the lines, forcing me to pull in and back up multiple times just to avoid being jack-knifed next to the carriage return.
Despite repeated attempts, it happens anyway, making it seem like I’m that person who thinks my decade-old, dented car is worthy of two spots, as opposed to the allotted one.
It doesn’t help that I drive a seven-seater minivan, which for someone with my limited grasp of physics is like trying to land the space shuttle on a piece of printer paper.
And while seeking a spot, there’s always at least one near-collision with a Backer-Inner.
This uber-efficient individual — with no warning whatsoever — does a hard slam of the brakes directly in front of me, before leisurely backing into the spot I’d been eyeballing (sometimes backing out and pulling in a second time to get it juuussst right), sending me into an utter Suburban Mom meltdown.
Once “parked,” I just make it to the entrance before remembering my collection of mismatched reusable bags, requiring the walk of shame back to the car to retrieve them from the back seat.
Arriving at the doors for a second time, I never manage to score the convenient, mid-sized cart.
Instead, I’m stuck with the dump truck version, jammed tight into the cart in front of it.
Too lazy to pick another, I waste valuable time jerking them forward and back as the Backer-Inner, clutching a coupon organizer, hovers impatiently behind me.
Upon liberation, it becomes apparent that I’ve unwisely selected the one with the janky side-wheel or dirty Purell wipe left in the bottom, which adds Finding a Trash Can to the task.
By the time I’m finally set to roll, I remember my grocery list.
Still sitting in the passenger seat.
Unable to recall a single thing on it, my surgical strike instantly becomes a game of Grocery Store Jeopardy, where every aisle equates to a category and question that I have no idea how to answer.
I’ll take Dairy Products That I’m Critically Low On for $100, Alex.
Answer: This daily staple is required for coffee and cereal.
Alex, what is sour cream?
Ooooh. Sorry, no. The question is: What is milk? Milk.
Flying without a wingman, I attempt to remember what I’m out of.
It’s futile, as no amount of visualization or concentrating until smoke tendrils escape from my ears can produce even one relevant item.
Instead I rebuy all the stuff I’m not out of and have no need for, like cream of mushroom soup and cat box liners, rendering the entire trip useless.
Navigating the aisles, I typically encounter the person who’s abandoned their cart smack dab in the middle, with no regard to blocking traffic as they ponder whether to buy Del Monte fruit cocktail or the generic version.
I wish I were assertive enough to speak up.
However, my Midwest upbringing forbids any type of communication that doesn’t involve apologizing for having done nothing wrong, which is, of course, what I do when they finally notice I’m waiting to get by.
On the upside, there’s always the checkout line, which, according to my husband, was designed specifically with me in mind.
I can’t argue.
If there’s something I don’t need, I want to buy it.
If it’s merchandised correctly, I can be persuaded that if I don’t purchase a mini lint roller, life isn’t worth living.
There are other treasures too. Double-A batteries, lighters, flash drives and gift cards to places I’d go, if I had a gift card.
And waiting in line gives me a chance to catch up on the latest headlines.
Without all the informative magazines and papers I’d never know that a computer virus had spread to humans or that a severed leg hopped to the hospital in search of its owner.
I’d also miss out on why my breasts could be feeling neglected, 40 styles guaranteed to make me look thinner and Betty White’s sad, final days.
Fortunately, I don’t really have to worry about being out of the loop. As long as my list is in the passenger seat, I know I’ll be back.