Friday, April 16, 2010

...As to Get the Prize

My grocery shopping skills have now officially been finely honed to an elevated art-form. Like most things in my life, this is out of necessity. The majority of my day goes something like this:

1. Ridiculously long "to-do" list.
2. A silly short amount of time in which to complete this list.
3. A debate in my head between my slothful angel and my over-achieving angel as to whether I'll finish or not.
4. The phrase crazily uttered aloud "Oh, I'll finish it alright. I have plenty of time."
5. A cup of coffee frantically made, spilled on my shirt and swallowed too hot to fuel my efforts in order to put the U.F.C. smack-down on my slothful angel.

Repeat steps 1-5 at least 3 times a day and viola (or "vi-oh-lah" as my daughter would say). There is my day.

Grocery shopping is usually squeezed into a window of 25 minutes. Enough for some, but not nearly enough for me. As mentioned in an earlier blog, I have my list organized by aisle/peripherals of the store and coupons stapled in order according to that list layered on the top left corner.

I have also learned to leave my cart and run for the item down one aisle and doing a mad sprint up the next back to abandoned cart to save time on wheeling the cumbersome beast to and fro. Occasionally I have dropped a can here or there and twice I've run into people--literally slamming my full body weight against someone with only a loaf of bread or a bag of 2% shredded Kroger brand Mexican cheese to cushion the blow. Most people just hear my flip-flops slip-slapping and they move to the side in horror.

I know all the "fast checkers" and which baggers can handle my frantic pace. I always compliment them on how fast they are as I'm wiping the sweat from my brow and unstapling my coupons. They always seem to want to get me out faster as if I have a fever of some sort. And perhaps I do. It's called, "You are gonna be super late to pick up your half-day Kindergartner, you slow, slothful, tortoise of a being."

Gabby gets out at 11:40. Today I did all sorts of things that I didn't necessarily have to do until 10:45 a.m. Setting myself up to lose, is apparently what I do best...I mean, in a way, it really does make me work smarter and faster. But the level of stress is just insurmountable at this point and somewhere between the grapes and the hummus, I often wonder to myself, "Is THIS really how normal people function?" the answer to that is always a resounding "No," in my case, but that's beside the point. Why not just take Gabby with me? Well, here's a quick why. She does great in the store. Really great. In fact, sometimes I get really creative and we play Grocery Bingo with homemade cards and all that jazz (slothful angel got pummeled that day). But mostly, I am painfully aware that this is my last few months with her as a morning Kindergartner. From here on out, she will be lost to full day school. We will not have our afternoons of lunch, playing out back, cozy reads, mid-afternoon hot cocoa/coffee dates, Go Fish-a-thons, park walks, bus-stop tree climbs, just the two of us, trying to make up for those first two years that our entire family ignored her because Bella talks all the time.

I just don't want to waste that time with her at the store.

Any way. Everything was going as planned until I spent more than my self-allotted time per section on the bars section. You know, Cliff bars, Kashi, Luna, etc. It's a science. Price, flavor, protein content. My five minutes turned into seven and before I knew it, I was doing the Homer Simpson squeal of fear and surprise as I glanced at my watch and saw that I hadn't even made it to the check out and it was 11:31.

At 11:33, I was trying my hardest to be a good listener to the bagger who was telling me about the blizzard of 06' when she worked at the Pepsi Center, AND Wendy's, but secretly my slothful angel was riding a unicycle around my head celebrating it's victory, tooting for some reason a clarinet. But still. I knew it took only 5 minutes if I hit every green light (which of course I WOULD) to get to Gabby's school. If I could do my trademark full-cart sprint out the store to my car, I could still make it work. I grabbed my receipt muttered a thanks and had just started to get my cart a really rocking, when it happened.

A 90 year old woman in a motorized wheeled cart moseyed out right. In. Front. Of. Me. Right in the middle of the aisle that surely is big enough to stay on the right and get passed on the left by people like me...moms mostly. Hmmmm. Just like a bike path. But there she was, right in the middle. My end of the game hail Mary shot had just been deflected. Three minutes. It took three minutes to go from one end of the check-out stands to the front door. Her hand was not all that steady and it kept slipping off the go button. So here I was tailgating a 90 year old woman in her motorized grocery cart and several times I almost rear-ended her.

Up ahead now at 11:38, I can see the opening to the store. I try to nonchalantly whip around her and gather up my full speed again, only to almost run into the assist-a-ride Arvada bus that she was destined for. As I bank a hard left to get around the back corner, I catch just out of the corner of my eye, a car that was crossing behind the bus--the car that would undoubtedly hit me, run me over and bring my untimely, inpatient death. I come to a screeching halt--almost forcing my sweet 90 year old friend to rear-end me (ironic, isn't it?) and there go my bagels and bananas that are stacked precariously on top of a bag. Off the side, rolling...under the bus. Then I hear a familiar voice.

"Nice, Macarelli. Real nice."

It was my friend Michele and her 4 1/2 year old daughter heading into the store--they had been witness to it all.

I didn't even really have time to justify my actions.

"I...uh (scramble for the bagels, grope for the now mushy bananas destined for banana bread)...can't (pant, pant) gotta get...Gabby!" I wave frantically in the air back at them, throw the groceries in the back, run the cart back around the bus at the entrance, see my old friend scowl at me from the motorized lift. "Sorry! Have a nice day!" (pant, pant,)

I test our Subaru's all wheel drive on the way to the school and believe it or not, roll into the parking lot, groceries spilling all across the back, at 11:41. I race up and Gabby comes running to meet me happy as a clam.

"Honey. I'm sorry I'm late."
"You're not late, Mama. (wrinkles up her freckled nose like it's gross to even think about) Let's play." She drops her back pack, smiles at me and heads off to the monkey bars.

I drop onto the grass, like I just finished a race (and let's be honest, I did) and then I see it. Coffee stains all down the front of my shirt. I have no idea how long they have been there. Did I get them at breakfast? Did I have them at the bus-stop? The grocery store? Or did I chug from my travel mug while I was driving 75 mph in a 25 mph zone without even being aware of my actions? I decided it didn't matter. Because I did it. I finished it. I got there. And now she and I had the WHOLE afternoon to be together. Do most people my age literally race a 90 year old in a motorized cart? Probably not. But I needed to get that prize.

*1 Corinthians 9:24. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.


  1. Great one Katie! Miss you my friend. Maybe you could schedule dinner with Janice and I on the 22nd into your overpacked schedule? We would love to see you!


  2. Oh my gosh Katie, I almost fell off my chair I was laughing so hard. Anna keeps asking me "what is so funny". I know exactly who that bagger is that chats about Wendy's, you can't decide if you should drop everything and just make a mad dash for it, or hope they get out of school late that day. I needed a good laugh, that was great!!