Me, spilling out all my thoughts, inner and outer, on just about anything! Lots of poetry, short stories from past experiences, anecdotes about teaching elementary school, music, relationships....garage sale type thing...Something For Everyone!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Grocery Stores Beware!

As a young child, I always thought it was a special treat to go out on errands with my father. In retrospect, I guess it was because such trips inevitably resulted in some unexpected exciting events and he would share with us his enthusiasm about any happenings that might occur on these brief outings. Shopping for groceries was without a doubt, one of the most memorable of such occasions.

My mother usually initiated these shopping expeditions. Father was to execute her orders right to the letter and without deviation. More often than not, we would be sent specifically for a few simple items for supper, an easy task to follow for most people. However, it was a challenge my father found impossible to conquer!

He made his first mistake by taking a buggy from the front. Hardly necessary for a few groceries you think? My mother thought so too! We’d scarcely get down the first aisle and the cart would already be half-full. Father was easily sidetracked, reading the labels of new products, deciding that, on behalf of consumers everywhere, it was his duty to test them all.

Of course, I always managed to sneak in many of what I considered absolute essentials: sugar-frosted cereal, packages of jujubes, licorice, chips, cheesies, pop, coloured marshmallows, and ice cream cones. (My list varied according to the children’s prime time television ads that week!)

As we’d approach the vegetable stands, my sister and I would shrink back in horrified anticipation of what was sure to happen next. The usual routine would fall quickly into place. Our father would spend about sixty seconds handling the potatoes, beans and carrots, examining them for the slightest of defects.

Upon his disapproval, which was always the case, there would be a five second interval – four, three, two, one, and then he’d start to grumble loudly to himself, only to be heard by all the other shoppers throughout the entire store, "This is terrible! Worst produce I’ve ever seen! How is this possible? Where the hell are they getting them? Where’s the manager? I’ve got to speak to the manager!"

By this time, as you can well imagine, it certainly was not necessary to page the manager! The poor man and all his assistants were already filing out at full speed through the double saloon-type swinging doors from the back room with a look of, "Not again?!" on their worried faces. This was our cue to grab the cart and zip down to the aisle furthest from the grade "D" vegetables where we could hide our embarrassment. Unfortunately, we could still hear echoes of my father’s booming voice!

About ten minutes remained left to "shop", as the heated argument would generally last that long. We had heard it all so often that the pattern was predictable. It was at this time that my sister and I chose to casually saunter up and down the aisles and pretend to be out shopping by ourselves. This scene occurred with such regularity that I daresay most people actually thought we were!

After we had exhausted the whole store, we continued to play out our dramatic roles as weekly shoppers and directed the cart towards the front checkout. This location just happened to be where the bubblegum machines were situated. My sister can sadly attest to the fact that I was indeed the neighbourhood’s worst gum machine addict!

This particular outing was no different than any other week. A familiar gleam came into my eyes and my adrenaline was pumping as I hastened towards those alluring coin-swallowers! My sister recognized the entranced look with a groan. The display of attractive, brightly coloured gumballs and prizes peering through the glass was now within reach!

I announced, quite needlessly, my intention to sink some serious change. Little did I know that I was on the threshold of the luckiest streak of my life! After inserting my first penny, I turned the knob and the customary gum and prize tumbled down the shoot into eager hands. For some unknown reason, I turned the knob again, only to be rewarded with another gumball and prize!

Upon repeating this procedure several times with the same delightful outcome, I concluded that, what we had here was a faulty gum machine. Absolutely no guilt was felt at taking full advantage of my amazing discovery. My eyes were downright bulging and beaming in disbelief with each new glorious load.
Yes, I was in a feverish frenzy as my pockets automatically filled themselves with the free loot!

According to schedule, my father, with a smug and self-satisfied look on his face, came roaring down the aisle still exclaiming that they had not seen the last of him. Somehow I’m sure the employees had figured this out for themselves, as some still huddled nervously over the vegetable stand, trying to rearrange the disturbed display of produce!

Others were staring at the business cards father had angrily thrust into their hands and they looked genuinely worried as they read, "Inspection Branch, Ontario Department of Agriculture". (Only we knew that this card was obsolete, because he hadn’t been with the branch for at least five years!)

As dad approached the front windows at the cashiers, I’m certain he was delighted to see his youngest daughter hastily cashing in on a faulty gum machine. He boldly grabbed a small brown paper bag from the checkout counter and handed it to me, claiming in his loud voice, "There’s not much left, you might as well empty the thing!" My hands never moved so fast!

We made our grand exit with the all too familiar send-off from the store’s employees – the manager, cursing angrily under his breath, the cashier, eyeing us icily in disgust, and the packing boy, staring openly, his jaw to the floor. Father proudly led the procession out the door, followed by one dazed daughter, deeply engrossed in the mysterious contents of her goody bag. A few paces behind was the other woeful daughter, head bent, self-conscious in her struggle to maneuver the awkward cart out of that store as smoothly and inconspicuously as possible.

And, as always, we had neglected to purchase the few items my mother had requested for making dinner!

Mother of Invention, still feeling the rush I got from filling that bag!


Blogger Robin said...

This is hilarious!!! I was also a gumball addict so I wish I had been with you that day. What a great day for you.

This shopping trip reminded me of the one and only time my dad and I went food shopping together. It was October 19th 1974,one day after my mom was due to deliver my sister. (Kara was actually born Oct 20th) Mom was too tired and pregnant to shop so she sent me and Dad with a list.

We bought a ton of stuff: pop tarts,pop corn,cheese doodles,pretzels,several kinds of ice cream,soda, know,the good stuff.

When we got home,Mom flipped. "There's nothing to eat in here!!!!" Uhm....well......Dad and I thought there was plenty to eat. We ordered Chinese food that night for dinner.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


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