It is far and away my absolutely least favorite of household chores. I dread everything about grocery shopping.

Making My List

I hate planning meals a week out, never knowing how much time we’ll actually have when it comes time to prepare the planned meal. And will the pre-planned entree sound good at the time? Probably not if I have to cook it. I thumb through the sale flyers, looking for inspiration, but there is nothing even slightly inspiring about the prospect.

The Parking Lot

One of the most frustrating things I witness in a parking lot is a practice my husband and I have dubbed “parking spot stalking.” Lazy drivers (handicapped drivers are excused) drive around looking for the closest possible place to park. They will even sit, blocking traffic, while another shopper unloads a cartload of groceries into the trunk. This drives me crazy — walk a little. It won’t kill you!

If I were to write a manual of my OCD rules, at least one entire chapter would be dedicated to parking lots. For every store I frequent, I have a regular parking area. When I go to a shopping mall, I always park near Sears — I have done so for years. Of course this is getting more and more difficult as Sears stores are closing faster than video rental stores. To get around this issue, I’ve just pretty much quit going to malls. Problem solved.

Parking in the same general area every time eliminates the need to remember where I parked. Also, the spots have been strategically chosen to reduce my stress level as much as possible. One of the most frustrating things I witness in a parking lot is a practice my husband and I have dubbed “parking spot stalking.” Lazy drivers (handicapped drivers are excused) drive around looking for the closest possible place to park. They will even sit, blocking traffic, while another shopper unloads a cartload of groceries into the trunk.

Personally, I park far enough from the store that I never have to drive near the front of the store where pedestrians are sauntering about like they have all the time in the world. As an added benefit, the long walk in gives me time to mentally prepare for the annoyances that await inside and to practice my breathing. On really big shopping days, it gives the Xanax a little more time to kick in.

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

I walk in and immediately faced with a decision that will determine the course of the trip: cart or basket?

Basket, of course, almost always. If we go as a family, everyone will carry a basket. I have so much utter disdain for shopping carts that even I myself recognize how irrational my emotions are, but I can’t contain the hatred. They slow me down and make it more difficult to maneuver through the narrow aisles, packed with other shoppers and Hostess displays. Most of my shopping trips end with me carrying an overflowing basket with handles that are bent by the weight of the contents. If it doesn’t fit in the basket (or carefully balanced on my head), then we don’t need it.

But even when I make the sane choice to use a basket, I’m still tormented by the shopping carts of other shoppers. My blood pressure boils when traffic is blocked by two friends who run into one another in the condiments aisle and choose to stop, side by side, and catch up on life. I fantasize about ramming them, but remember, I don’t have a cart. I consider throwing a jar or pickles at one of them, but finally, I just backtrack and walk down another aisle, all the while, blessing them under my breath.

Some stores have kid-size carts, which I nominate for the worst idea ever. Because what we all need to make the entire experience a little more awful are bratty little kids running around the store with battering rams, bumping into displays and ankles. It’s not cute. It’s annoying. Kids in grocery stores belong in the cart seat , riding precariously on the end, or securely leashed on a choker chain. (Muzzles are optional, but highly recommended.)

And did you know that a single shopping cart can block the entire section of sympathy cards? I mean, why do you need a shopping cart in the greeting card department? It makes me want to punch you, then send you a “Get Well,” card, if I can get to them.

Then, there are the stores that don’t offer baskets or just don’t keep them stocked. Yes, I’m talking about YOU, Noblesville Walmart. If I need more than I can carry but less than requires a cart, I will not go to anyplace where I can’t find a basket. (I have a great story about the basket situation at Noblesville Walmart.) Meijer always has baskets or, another worthy option, a smaller version of a shopping cart. The invention of these “sport carts,” as I have dubbed them is Nobel prize worthy, in my opinion. As an added bonus, these smaller shopping carts don’t have a child seat, so I don’t have to imagine a toddler with opaque green snot teething on the handle bar.


Hope You Got Your Shouts

Yeah, don’t even get me started about the germs. Cart or basket, they are filthy petri dishes and we’re supposed to place FOOD in them. Food that we will EAT. With our MOUTH.

Thank God for portable packs of Lysol wipes — God’s gift to… well, me.

No Escape

My anxiety spikes when I get “trapped” in a crowded aisle and sometimes I’m even convinced another shopper has somehow gotten my shopping list and is intentionally going ahead of me and blocking everything I need with his or her cart.

Obviously involved in the conspiracy, the store personnel cruelly place everything I need on the top shelf and for an added measure of frustration, make sure the stock is pushed as far back as possible.

Not even MacGyver could make a meal out of this…

macgyver-say-whatI can’t stand it when I spend over an hour (and $XXX.xx) and get home only to find I have picked up a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t even play nicely together in any cohesive meal plan. Given the contents of my shopping bags, even MacGyver would say, “What in the world am I supposed to do with this?” It’s also great to realize I bought more frozen foods than will fit in the freezer.

Darn right I want to check out!

And checkout — don’t even get me started. Why is it that people are seemingly caught unaware they are going to be asked to pay for their groceries when the cashier is finished scanning? They get this “deer in headlights” look when the cashier announces the total, and only then begin looking for their debit card. And their shopper reward card. And their coupons, which are probably expired. (I once got behind an elderly lady who handed the clerk six different store and gas station loyalty cards before finding the right one. She was buying one can of Play-Doh.)

“Oh, left your purse in your car, did you? No problem! Everyone will just wait while you go get it — take your time!” Take a hint from the Boy Scouts, people, and BE PREPARED — or at least moderately aware of your circumstances.

Then, today, we had half of our cartload of groceries loaded to the conveyor when it was announced that debit card processing was down. Love Dave Ramsey as I might — I DO NOT CARRY THAT MUCH CASH and our checkbook sits on the office desk at home, relegated only to monthly deposits into our daughter’s school lunch account.

Thank God, they got it running again before my frozen berries were melted by my simmering rage and we escaped relatively unscathed with all of the items that were not blocked by shopping carts or beyond my reach.

Looks like for dinner tonight we are going to have mini pizzas made of caramel rice cakes, pesto sauce, bran flakes, and the frozen berries that wouldn’t fit in the freezer.

Blessed Beyond Measure

Yes, I hate grocery shopping. I can think of any number of things I’d rather do, but I try to remember that a large percentage of this world’s population would trade places with me in a heartbeat. They may have no idea where their next meal is coming from.

I’m a spoiled brat.