I don’t know if I’ll ever learn that when I run in to a store, I won’t be running back out anytime soon. It just plain doesn’t work — believe me, I’ve tried.
I’ve given myself all possible configurations of time, but inevitably my attempts have resulted with me peeling into the school parking lot as the last bus leaves. My son is standing there, weighted down by his backpack and his frown. He opens the door, climbs in and says accusingly, “You went grocery shopping, didn’t you?” Guilty again.
There are several reasons why this happens. First off, it seems that no matter what is on your list, each item is located in opposite corners of the store. I don’t care how focused you are, it is nearly impossible to trek from one end to the other without getting distracted by the good deal on dog treats that you may as well pick up — you know, since you’re there.
The other issue is, half the time when you do finally get to the spot in which your item is always located, it’s not there. What is with that, anyway? Somewhere, someone is doing research on how to mess with shoppers. Why else would they move the Cheez-Its across the aisle and farther down? Why is the Parmesan better placed at the other end of the cooler? This just throws off our momentum.
We were in the zone, now suddenly we’re wandering. We no longer appear to be at an urgent pace, we’ve become approachable.
Another obstacle to the so-called “quick” stop is that, in our small town especially, grocery shopping is actually a social outlet. You are crazy if you think that you can dash in — unshowered, without makeup, wearing glasses, pajamas and two different flip-flops — without running into at least three people you know and haven’t seen for a while. There is no getting around the stop and chat — all the while maneuvering your cart out of the way of other shoppers passing by, wondering why the peanut butter is no longer on the top shelf but somewhere in the middle on the right.
Next stop, the deli — where they are serving No. 2 and you are holding No. 17.
Eventually, you get what you need, pick up a few more things — you know, since you’re there — then head directly to the self-serve checkout created specifically for shoppers in a hurry. Which is exactly why you’d like to strangle the little voice that says, “Please wait for assistance.” I think the voice sees me coming, because sometimes I don’t even do anything yet and it’s already telling me to wait.
Finally, you make your way to the parking lot, but it’s been so long since your arrival you have no recollection of where you parked. Again you begin to wander; and, of course, run into someone you know and haven’t seen for a while. By the time you get your stuff in the car, the ice cream is melting and you are officially running late.
But I will not be deterred. I will continue with my quest for an efficient shopping trip. I am determined that one day I will not only remember my list, but I will find the things that are on it exactly where they were the last time I looked. I will not be distracted by any sale or make eye contact of any kind. I will hold the number now being served at the deli. I will choose the best checkout line complete with no one holding a checkbook or having to have someone run to get them a different flavored yogurt.
And lastly, I will return to my car parked in the front row, yet nowhere near the pedestrian crossings. I will then pick up my son, who happily gets in the car without any knowledge whatsoever that I went to the store.
Hey, if you’re shopping in pajamas, you may as well dream.
— By Kelly Kalis, Tribune community columnist