A grocery conundrum

Photo by Fikri Rasyid

I was low on the staples — bread, milk, eggs and the like — so it was time to go shopping. There was a time when I disliked this chore but because of these isolationist days, grocery shopping has become almost exciting.

I parked my car and dutifully put on my mask, grabbed two shopping bags and walked towards the door. These were big bags so two should be enough. Anyway, if I needed more, I could get one of those green recycling bags, they always came in handy for compost recycling. I picked a good day to out, the sun was shining, the temperature was above zero, not many people in the store, so all was right with the world.

By the time I got to the checkout, I had accumulated a lot more groceries than I anticipated buying. Someone once said, “never go shopping when you’re hungry.” Yes, I was hungry, I had skipped breakfast and it was already past noon. I smiled as I looked at the cart: yes, there certainly was enough food there to quell my hunger.

The cashier began to scan the items as I loaded them onto the moving counter. Item by item my purchases appeared on the screen complete with cost and a mounting total. As the tally grew, I became uneasy. I knew it was going to be costly, but this total was reaching a new record. I reminded myself that I did buy quite a bit of meat and several items I truly did not need. Oh well, too late now. The cashier smiled sweetly as she asked for my membership number and I, like an automaton, rattled it off. I ended up with five extra recycle bags and I saw her put my very long grocery receipt into one of them.

As I walked to my car, I wondered if I had given her the right number. I felt a little light-headed, maybe from not eating, or perhaps I was experiencing sticker price shock. I’ll check the receipt as soon as I get home I mumbled under my breath. This amount must be registered against my number because I can use all the help I can get at membership rebate time.

The little grocery cart I keep in the basement was overflowing and quite heavy as I pulled it to the elevator. It was good to be home. I began to unload my cart and put the groceries on the counter and soon ran out of room. Boy, did I ever buy a lot of stuff! Where was I going to put everything? First, eat something, I told myself.  The storage problem can wait.

I looked around my counter and in the last remaining grocery bag in the cart: where was the bread? I know I picked up two loaves at the store, and where was the milk? I distinctly remember putting that into my shopping cart. It finally dawned on me that I was missing some groceries. I picked up the phone and called customer service and told the young man about my missing bag. He said he would check with the cashier and put me on hold.

I patiently listened to music I didn’t like until the phone went dead. I called back and was told by the same young man that all of a sudden it got very busy and he had to tend to other customers.

He would go right now and check with the cashier and put me back on hold. While I was waiting, I discovered that the baby white potatoes I bought were also missing. Again the phone went dead.

I hung up and decided to check my receipt to make sure I had given the cashier my correct membership number. I checked the empty bags on the counter and in my cart, no receipt. I checked my purse but it was not in there either. Just a minute, where is the sour cream?, for that matter, the cheese? and eggs? they are also missing.

Hang on, didn’t I see her fill five of those green bags and there were only two on my counter. Now I realized that I was missing three bags not just one.

Oh, why don’t I pay more attention? Guess it was the total that threw me. This is crazy. Wonder if somehow I left them in the car? I called back and this time my call went directly to voice messaging. I left a message and said that I was going to check my car just in case the bag somehow rolled under the seat. I also said that if I didn’t call back, then everything was alright.

I opened the hatch and sure enough, there were the missing grocery bags. I have a large box in my trunk for no other reason except that I may need it someday, and for reasons I can not explain, I put the three grocery bags inside the box. I shook my head and chuckled at my own stupidity. Then I remembered that poor young man searching for groceries he would never find. I was too embarrassed to call back and instead I wrote a letter to the manager praising his employee for his help and patience.

Guess April Fool’s day arrived a little earlier than usual at my house.