A Super (One) way to spend a Sunday“Here’s a piece of advice for you when you reach the end of your grocery store journey: avoid the self-checkout. Not only are these evil machines putting nice checkout people out of work, but they don’t save you any time. In fact, they’re slower and more aggravating.”
By: Brian Matuszak, for the Duluth Budgeteer News
So there I was, spending a beautiful Sunday afternoon yelling at the TV and wishing we had a professional football team in Minnesota, when Sue informed me we had to run to the grocery store. Normally, I would be hesitant to abandon my weekly screechfest at the Purple and Gold (it’s therapeutic, although the neighbors have another word for it), but I do enjoy groceries, so I put down the remote, as well as my Super Bowl dreams, and off we went!
My wife and I love the grocery store; it’s the only place where we can spend lots of money and not feel guilty about it. We don’t need top-of-the-line cell phones or fancy sparkly pants or electronic tablet pad thingies, but we do gotta eat. (OK, maybe I need the fancy sparkly pants, too, but only during symphony season.)
When we arrive at the grocery store, we face our first major decision: basket or cart? This needs to be carefully considered; many a grocery store trip has ended in misery for my forearms because a basket was hastily grabbed and relentlessly overloaded. I’d rather guess wrong and glide through the aisles with a huge cart containing nothing more than flank steak and bananas than to struggle with a small, overflowing basket that resembles Mount Vesuvius spewing kiwis. Sue informs me we need only a few lunch items, so we decide on the basket, and head for our first stop: the deli.
We visit the deli every time we're at the grocery store, so we’ve become friendly regulars to the ladies who work there. They always greet us with a warm smile and ask about Kaylee, if she’s not with us. On this particular Sunday, our daughter was with us, so the deli ladies provide her with a generous sample from behind the counter. As Sue places our order, I wander over to the Olive Bar, a recent addition to the deli that I wholeheartedly endorse.
I have always loved olives. Heck, you can keep the turkey, my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the relish tray. I know we have only a small basket, but one little container of garlic-stuffed olives should be fine....
After a perusal of the fruits and vegetables (oooh, apples on sale ... gotta pick up a tote, along with our potatoes and pea pods), we head for the clearance meat, which isn’t as awful as it sounds. This is where one can get, say, spicy porketta at a low, low price. You just have to eat it right away or freeze it. Sue declares there is room in the freezer at home (as opposed to my quickly-becoming-full-and-heavy basket) and we load up on tomato basil chicken breasts.
Next, we walk through the dairy aisle (hey, look, chocolate milk is on sale!! Better get two jugs!!), then move on to the exciting area known as Scratch and Dent. This is a big shelf hidden in the back of the store, holding a potpourri of merchandise that has been marked down due to aggressive stock boys, slippery hands, or simply the passage of time. I see slightly smooshed boxes of Life, sure to contain that magical elixir known as Sugary Cereal Dust. I grab four of those. How about that peanut butter for fifty cents? It expired last March, but it’s peanut butter, for crying out loud. Peanut butter never goes bad! And, ooh, there! Way in the back! Look at all the silvery, dented mystery cans! They may be missing their labels, but they’ve got suspense and danger plastered all over them! Let’s take three!
I am struggling with our tiny, jammed-full basket by now, so we bypass the bakery and head for the checkout. It’s not a big deal, as “chocolate doughnut day” was yesterday anyway. My waistline says “good” but the rest of me says, “What were we so busy doing yesterday that we couldn’t stop by the grocery store for chocolate doughnuts?”! (Speaking of my waistline, ever since I went on my diet, one of the things I miss the most are those delectable entrées from the frozen food king, Jeno Paulucci. I point this out not to brag about my weight loss — 30 pounds, thankyouverymuch – but just to let Jeno know, in case he’s wondering, that the reason his bottom line is not as robust is because MY bottom line is not as robust.)
Here’s a piece of advice for you when you reach the end of your grocery store journey: avoid the self-checkout. Not only are these evil machines putting nice checkout people out of work, but they don’t save you any time. In fact, they’re slower and more aggravating. One time, that smug, automated voice kept yapping at us, “unexpected item in the baggage area”, until I finally snapped and screamed back at it: “IT’S NOT UNEXPECTED! IT’S OUR BAG!!” I had to sign something to be allowed back in the store after that, so don’t use those.
All in all, it was another successful trip to the local grocery store. We now have lunch for the next two days, and more than enough food to survive a nuclear holocaust. Time to settle in and see if I can crack this mystery-can mystery. The way I figure it, it’s either cat food or cracker spread.
Either way, I’m set.
Brian Matuszak has been difficult and demanding since February 2008. He is the co-founder of Renegade Comedy Theatre, founder of Rubber Chicken Theater, and will be appearing in “Resurrection Blues” at St. Scholastica this October. It’s a comedy by Arthur Miller, which is not nearly as odd as a drama by Neil Simon.