The Grocery Store

The Grocery Store

There are two kinds of people. Multitaskers and those that cannot multitask. It turns out, I am married to a man who despises multitasking, while I love multitasking.

This is always exemplified when we go to the grocery store together. I'm the kind of person who will say something like, "The line is long. We need this one thing. Go stand in line and I will RUN to go get it, and then we can be out of here faster."

Which causes my husband to have a total and complete brake check. He will NOT stand in line without all of our to-be-purchased goods.

"What if you aren't back in time"? He used to ask, back when we were first learning about each other's grocery store habits.

"Then the timing is off, and we have to start over. BUT we could really score and get out of here super fast!"

Now he just flat out refuses to stand in line without all of our groceries. He won't discuss the merits and cons of my argument, just the idea of doing this is so stressful to him he cannot speak on it.

Another example of our differences comes out when we go to the self checkout. We never go to a real-life person any more. The grocery store closest to our house has a horrible parking lot, which I tell my husband about any time we are near the store- "Do you want to hear about the last time I was in there? I almost go hit three times." (He never wants to hear about it, even though I have very valid points.)

And if you make it through the gauntlet of death that is the too small parking lot full of jacked up trucks and diagonal parking, you go into a poorly lit building with a zillion people where you have to throw elbows and dodge over-full carts, just to make it to the check out line where there are seven real-life checkout stands, and only one alleged human working them. And that supposed human (they might be a Beta version cyborg... jury is still out) has a line so long it backs up into the holiday aisle because I live in the part of the world where there is a genre of person whose personal moral compass is injured by the idea of a robot checking them out. If it turns out they are actually employing cyborgs to work the flesh and blood check out, my town will riot itself into oblivion.

So, we always go to the automated checkouts, and this is where our energies really clash. I have a system I use at the self check out, as does my husband, but our systems are diametrically opposed.

Because I like to multitask to find the epitome of efficiency, I want to help my husband. But the machines are the most cranky, overly sensitive machines I've ever seen, so if I so much as look at one of our reusable tote bags with too heavy of a thought, it accuses us of putting an extra item in our bag.

But for me, to bag with utmost efficiency, which is what I like to do, Tetris was my favorite calculator game as a kid, I can't just throw the item in there and be done. I have to adjust the items so they fit like the puzzle pieces they are.

But then the machine stalls out, my husband is frustrated because his view is that the most efficient way to shop is to just throw it all in a bag so the machine doesn't trigger, which is clearly not true. Bagging is an art, and using the least amount of bags makes me feel good. It is the only way to get a dopamine hit in this dark, eldritch cave of a grocery store. Yet every time I adjust our package of salad to fit next to the box of cereal, the machine needs an attendant, and my husband, who is the always the one to scan things because I must bag them, tells me I'm not helping, so I go look at the poster board with all the local kids who grew a pig for 4-H. When I get back, we aren't any closer to getting out of there, and in fact the bags are just really out of sorts, and my innate need to play real-life Tetris overwhelms me and I re-organize the bags, causing the machine to stall out, and my husband to throw his head back and groan.

But we do eventually make it out of the grocery store, back into the death defying parking lot, where we dodge families with carts and trucks with nuts. My husband is still mad about the checkout machines, and I am on a fresh diatribe about the parking lot, but eventually we do escape the curtilage of the grocery store.

Are we older than when we started? Yes. Did we get through the grocery store effectively? Probably not. Are we going to do it all again in a week? Unfortunately. Will we learn how to work together by then? No. Does that make me upset? Not at all.

Every week, we have the potential to do something beautiful and transcendent by packing those totes with artistry and efficacy. This is the only shining light in that horrible parking lot and store with too low of a ceiling. I will never not pack those bags to my best ability. Even if it means the machines will sing the song of their people; I must also sing mine.