Ever have one of those days when you feel you should have just stayed in bed? I did today, thanks to an Epic Grocery Fail this morning.
Normally, I shop at Fred Meyer. Love the place – it’s local (or was, until Kroger bought them out a few years ago), and is the ultimate one-stop shopping experience. In Fred Meyer, you can buy a carton of milk, a pair of tennis shoes, a bird feeder, a leather sectional, The Sound Of Music on DVD, a protractor, a bandsaw, and a diamond ring all under one roof (and then fill up your car with gas outside). Their grocery section is huge, and the prices are pretty reasonable. Freddy’s – as locals call it – is the awesome sauce. However, with my ongoing joblessness, I’m willing to try to save a few bucks here and there, and slashing the weekly grocery bill is a good place to start. My parents are forever suggesting Wal-Mart, but I am carrying on a self-imposed one-man crusade against that place and refuse to ever shop there
because I think they’re the devil’s spawn for personal reasons. Fortunately, we’ve got WinCo, a regional grocery chain whose name either stands for “Winning Company” or the five states in which the stores are located (Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon), depending on who you believe. WinCo has great prices on their food – in many cases their groceries are lower than ol’ what’s-that-other-store’s. But it’s not as nice as Fred Meyer.
Granted, a grocery store is a grocery store. You don’t go there for the ambience, right? Well, maybe you don’t, but I guess I do, because the grocery store I used to shop at when I lived in Beaverton had soft lighting, hardwood floors, and a grand piano with a musician tickling the ivories every night. That was pretty cool. WinCo is nothing like that, unfortunately. First off, it’s huge: it’s like shopping in an airplane hangar. Second, you’ve got to bag your own groceries. I guess not having to pay baggers is how they’re able to keep food prices low. And the layout is weird, forcing you to double back so you don’t miss anything. All these things make the overall experience less than desirable…but hey, cheap is cheap!
The trouble started in the parking lot. I had just pulled in, and came to a three-way stop. In my defense, how often do you see three-way stops? Most intersections have two-way or four-way stop signs. So, when I arrived there before the car to my right, came dutifully to a halt and then proceeded to go, is it my fault that the woman in the gray SUV to my left – the one lane without a stop sign – had to slam on her brakes to avoid plowing into the driver’s side of my car? Hell no, I say! Besides, I did see her. Midway through the intersection, but still. Better late than never, right? I came to a screeching stop, did a polite little wave while sheepishly mouthing I’m sorry, and backed up so she could continue on her way, while she glared daggers in my direction.
Following my near-death experience, I pulled into a spot and waited five minutes, sufficient time for the angry lady in the gray SUV to disappear into the cavernous store, before following. Hey, she was a large woman! I wasn’t going to take any chances. And then I rounded the produce aisle and nearly rammed into her with my cart.
Son of a &*%$#…
Pull back, pull back! my brain screamed, and I quickly veered over to the greeting card aisle, even though there aren’t any anniversaries or birthdays in my family in the near future. She didn’t know that, though. I pretended to examine some ribbons and bows until she had moved on. Whew. Another close call!
The actual shopping part took longer than normal, because I’m not used to WinCo and so I had to carefully check every aisle. (By the way, it’s fun to shop at a new store once in awhile – seems like they always carry some unusual food product you’re not used to; in this case, it was Tillamook Pomegranate Blackberry yogurt. Score!). Finally I was finished and ready to check out, so I picked the aisle with the friendliest-looking cashier I could find, since I’m a newbie and all. The good news: I unloaded my cart without a hitch. The bad news: I screwed up every other part of the transaction.
First, I tried to use a credit card, but it kept asking for a PIN number. “We only take cash, checks and debit cards,” the cashier informed me. Of course. Nine times out of ten I’d have paid that way, but my mortgage is due next week and finances are tight. Oh, well. I swiped my debit card instead, and then hit the wrong button, so it was trying to give me cash back. I certainly didn’t need that, but somehow the machine was frozen, so the cashier had to manually back out my transaction herself. (I’m so glad I picked the friendliest-looking one…she was quite a peach about the whole thing). Then it was time to bag my groceries. I felt pressure to hurry, because there were other people paying for theirs, and even though it’s a two-way conveyor belt both sides were being used. I didn’t want some stranger’s eggs mingling with my mayo, if ya catch my drift. (Then again…hmm). The super-friendly cashier then said, “You don’t know how to use the belt, do you, hon?” There’s a button you’re supposed to press to move the grocery-laden conveyor forward, instead of making multiple trips back and forth with bags. I had forgotten about this handy little feature. Oops. Then, adding insult to injury, I dropped my tomatoes on the floor.
Son of a &*%$#…
At long last, I escaped. My dignity was nowhere near intact, but at that point, I was just thankful to be finished. Man, what a stressful experience that was! I have no idea why I was so jumpy in there. Talk about a spazz. I guess my brush with death put me on edge.
Next week, I’m sticking with Freddy’s.