Friday, March 07, 2014

The yogurt shuffle

I'm not good at grocery shopping when it comes to making it an expedition where hundreds of dollars are spent and enough food is purchased that a return trip to the supermarket isn't necessary for a month. What I am good at is wanting/needing three or four different things at a time, necessitating several trips a week to the supermarket. I know that isn't efficient but I don't mind. When you're only picking up a few things, you can breeze right in and out, and you always get to use the express line. In fact, I like grocery shopping. It's fun! Usually.
Last night, I went to the supermarket, focused on picking up exactly three things: bananas, orange juice and yogurt, for lunches, because I'm (at least temporarily) a vegetarian now.

STEP 1 - Bananas: No problem. Swing through produce and grab a bunch of bananas. Boom! Is there a fruit that comes more perfectly packaged by nature than bananas? Not only the container but the means of carrying them.

STEP 2 - Orange juice: No problem. I'm already in produce; the orange juice is right there! Damn, I love orange juice! Grab a gallon, with as much pulp as possible, please. Yum!

STEP 3 - Yogurt: Problem. I steer over to dairy, past the milk and cheese and sour cream and there's the yogurt. Camped out in front of the store brand (10 for $5!) is some guy and his cart. He's squatted down and grabbing containers of yogurt, looking at each one, shaking some of them, smelling others. He puts four containers in his cart, takes three out and puts them back on the shelf. He does this with different quantities until I'm positive he's handled every container at least twice. Every now and then, he counts how many are in his cart. In the middle of this, he calls someone on the phone to discuss the situation. It's taking a really long time and nobody else can get to the yogurt. If he moves his cart just six inches in one direction or the other, another person could easily get in and shop for yogurt, too. And the thing is, he sees me. He knows I want access to that smooth, creamy goodness and he won't... he won't fucking move! Now, you know me. In situations like this, I'm just a peaceful, "live-and-let-live" guy. On the outside, I mean, because I dislike confrontations. Meanwhile, in my head I'm praying silently-but-urgently for his immediate and painful death, wondering if there might be a way that an over-handled container of yogurt could explode and tear his head completely off,  like a normal person. But this is ridiculous. I start shifting my weight from foot to foot, putting my hands on my hips, sighing loudly, looking at my wrist for a watch I don't have on. He's not only not taking the hint, he's doing new stuff like looking at the bottoms of the containers and lining the containers up in neat little rows in his basket. Finally, he finishes and moves on. I step in and use my arm to simply sweep whatever 16-to-20 containers are in my reach into my basket and storm off.
Now I get to the front of the store and I see him ambling towards a register and I recognize this as an opportunity to get payback. I position myself so I can get in line just before he does. Not in a swooping, "AHA!" way, but a "Oh, hi. Looks like I made it here ahead of you. Ha ha. I almost wound up behind you but I wound up in front of you instead. Not that it matters. We're all just grocery shoppers and not competing or anything like that. Isn't life funny?" way. I don't do it perfectly because there's one person in between us. I feel bad but this person is going to be a casualty of war. Sorry.
I start unloading my stuff on the belt. I do this like a normal human being with the bananas and orange juice. Now it's time to put up the yogurt, which I do one at a time, and then picking some up, looking at them, putting them back in the basket, examining the lids and the bottoms, taking them back out of the basket and back on the belt, I handle some of the containers three and four times. I do it very slowly and precisely and I know the cashier and the person behind me are looking at me like I'm out of my mind. I'm really wrapped up in it now and I start smelling the containers. Now I'm laying them on the belt and leaning down to and looking across the tops with one eye, to make sure they're all uniform height. A couple look like they might not be so I pick them up individually and examine them very closely before putting them back on the belt. I'm shifting them around like the world's slowest and strangest shell game. "Yeah, motherfucker. How's it feel, huh? How does it feel?", I'm thinking to myself. This is when I request that the cashier ring them up in alphabetical order so it comes out that way on the receipt. I am especially pleased with myself for coming up with that because that brings the process to a total standstill. I'm in the middle of being pleased with myself when I see Yogurt Guy leaving the store, carrying his purchases. They opened another line and he moved over without noticing anything I was doing other than taking too long. I never saw him move but the whole absurdity of it was completely lost on him because he didn't even know I was doing it! Now I just look like a weirdo in front of the cashier and this person behind me.
So anyway, obviously, I can never buy yogurt there again.

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