Not long ago I trekked to my favorite grocery store, this time without a curler in my hair. (That’s another story.) I had put it off for a while, because I don’t really like the task. I do like to eat, however, and my family seems determined to have food on a regular basis, so it’s unavoidable.
I went the first thing in the morning, so I could avoid crowds, get the groceries put away and get to work on time.
Because I had put off going shopping, my list was long. You know those odd items you run out of, the condiments, spices, a certain kind of bottled pepper for that one recipe? This list was full of stuff like that. Up one aisle and down the next I went, slowly filling the cart with my procrastinated needs. I stuck to the list too, none of those impulse purchases. Pencil in hand, I crossed off all those items. Focused and determined to get done and get back home, I didn’t dawdle.
Finally I crossed off the last item. I chose the self-checkout line. I’d gotten hooked on these a few years back. I know, it’s slower if you have more than ten items, but I like the sense of independence, of being able to fill the grocery bags the way I want. I like that I have some of the produce codes memorized. Pretty sure I secretly dreamed of cashiering when I was a kid.
I scanned all my items, efficiently and quickly. I was a shopper in the zone. No coupons. I put in my frequent buyer number to get the store discounts. Swiped my payment card.
Hmmm. I reswiped the card. Entered my pin number. Not approved.
I looked at the card to make sure I’m using the correct pin number with the correct card. Yes. I swiped the card again, selecting the credit option. Still rejected.
I reached for my other debit card, the one from the bank, not the credit union. Not there. Must have given it to one of the kids to put gas in the car. I have a twenty. The machine asks for a cartload of money. Dang.
MSH was asleep after working late, so a call to his turned off cell phone wouldn’t have helped. By the time I could drive home and drive back I’d have eaten into my small window of time before work. I wouldn’t have time to put things away. I’d be late for everything the rest of the day.
The clerk who oversees the self-checkout menagerie came over to help. I explained my dilemma, apologized, stood there feeling stupid. She says, no worries, they have people who can put it all back.
I walk out of the store empty-handed. Not a single bag of groceries. What an odd feeling.
Resisting the temptation to give into tears in the car, I tried to think through the day ahead, put the embarrassment and frustration behind me.
I never made it back to the grocery store that week. Sent hubby on a milk run. Had my son pick up a couple of items once or twice.
It’d be nice to carry enough “just in case” cash, but that kind of money doesn’t float around my house too much. And I’d be tempted to spend it somewhere else, here and there. Does anyone even take checks anymore? I just want efficient and easy. And reliable.
Turns out a bank error occurred while processing a direct deposit. Who’d have known? I guess I would have if I checked my account online before heading out to spend money. Lesson learned, sort of.
Technology is great, except when it isn’t.
Here’s the weirdest outcome. All those crossed off items from my failed grocery acquisition got crossed off in my head too. I’d go to the pantry to pull out the spice I had put in my cart and it wouldn’t be there. Oh yeah, I’d remember, not paid for. I’d reach into the fridge for cilantro I’d just almost bought, and nothing. That balsamic vinegar I had planned to use later in the week? Missing, no wait, never purchased. Salt to refill the shaker? Nada. Oh yeah, debit card downer.
For weeks afterwards my cupboards and pantry and fridge felt haunted.
Even to this day, months afterwards, I still find myself reaching for an item my head tells me I bought. It went in the cart, it went through the scanner, it went into the grocery bag, and it went into my brain. It just never went into my cupboards.
Wish I could tap into that “rememberability” with things that are really important.