I tend to think of myself as a fairly normal, regular Real Woman. Most days I feel that I fit in pretty well with others. I know several friends, relatives and associates who seem to have similar outlooks, habits, interests and philosophies as me.
Yet somehow when I walk into the grocery store, this apparently all changes. As a matter of fact, due to the reactions of other shoppers, I feel a bit like Shrek. Allow me to explain…
I cook most of our dinners & breakfasts at home – we do not regularly go out or order-in food. I also pack lunch for myself most days, and occasionally pack lunches for my son and husband. Each of these meals of course requires buying food at the grocery store….which, by the way, is a privilege none of us should ever take for granted. We are lucky to live in a country where we can stroll through aisles selecting plentiful food off a multitude of shelves. But I digress.
Where was I…. ah, yes, the reason for my Shrek-like transformation….I attempt to plan my meals and my grocery list to get the bulk of what I need for two weeks when I shop. I am not a daily or several-times a week shopper, like others who run in to pick up the few items they need for that particular night. I go once a week, generally on a weekend. Even on my “off weeks”, I still need to go to replenish perishables, etc. So as I complete my shopping experience, especially on the “big” weeks, my cart is very full and can even get heavy to push. This is apparently an unusual and shocking sight for other shoppers.
At first I would meet elderly gentlemen, toddling around the store buying their 6 items, and invariably one would make a comment like “oh, my, that is a lot of food my dear, are you sure you can still push that cart?” Or “wow, that must have cost a lot.” Yes, I am thankful that financially I am able to do all of this shopping at once, although I believe if I broke it out into several short trips, the cost would be the same. Nevertheless, I’d smile sweetly at the old men and haul my wares to the car.
But now comments and reactions are coming from virtually anyone I pass. Last weekend I was rounding my last corner and another woman, whom I gauge to be only slightly younger than me, literally looked at me in shock and said “oh my gosh, how many kids do you have?!” The irony of this statement is there are only three of us at home – plus I’m usually picking up a few things for my handicapped brother who lives near us. And, truth be told, during this particular shopping trip, I was also buying all the ingredients I would need for holiday cookie baking. So sure enough, there I am, feeling the need to explain myself to this woman. She responded with a frightened “oh, sounds like fun….” and hurried away.
I worked my way to the check out line and started unloading, and a woman standing behind me watched, entranced. She was holding about 4 items. She finally said “I haven’t seen something like that in a long time.” Shrek-Me once again started babbling my explanation of two weeks’ worth, including baking ingredients, etc. …certainly not because I needed to, I just felt compelled.
But wait – that’s not all. Sure enough, the cashier and the bagger started a conversation about my grocery quantity. Finally, not able to control himself, the cashier said to me “so how long will all this last you, anyway?” At this point I felt like at any moment I’d hear the store manager on the P.A. system announce “Ladies and Gentlemen, come one, come all, to Register 4. Behold the Grocery Freak!”
I just don’t get it. Is it really THAT rare these days to buy a full cart’s worth of groceries? Does no one cook at home any more? What are larger families than mine doing? Going without eating? As I mentioned, grocery shopping IS very expensive…but isn’t it still less expensive than eating out? Perhaps everyone else is just spreading the pain out into more frequent, smaller quantity visits. I just don’t have the time or patience to do that.
So, I guess I will continue with my system. Perhaps some day, rather than considering me a freak, the store management will reward me….I think giving me my very own custom cart with a deeper basket and wider wheel base would be a nice start.