A Jewel of an Experience

I stood in line for cabbage this morning. Yes, cabbage. I was number 1 in line. I waited for almost 10 minutes for them to find one lousy box of cabbage and bring it out. And for some strange reason they slice off the a piece of the stem before it's put out so I had to wait for that to be done too. I waited cabbage after I had to ask for beets and then waited over five minutes for them to appear. The guy brought two bunches, holding them up for inspection like rabbits fresh from the hunt. I took the bunch with the biggest beets and the longest leaves.

I was kept company by two women. One was wearing head-to-toe Sons of Anarchy Illinois gear and was talking very loudly into her headset about the lack of cabbage. She didn't buy anything else. I bet there is 50 Shades next to her bed. Another woman, who was very tall and had on a very bright flowery top, was snatching up everything that was leafy and green. The size and leafiness of our cabbage choices matched our physical sizes. We went from small to medium to large and leafy. Both of them eyes my beets very curiously. I didn't offer an explanation.

I went to Jewel this morning. I needed borsch ingredients and several cleaning supplies and if I would've gone to my regular stores it would have been three stops instead of one and I didn't feel like driving around all morning. Plus I didn't have my morning tea yet. I thought I was so clever, going to Jewel. My list wasn't even that big: beets, cabbage, beef, coffee, fennel, rosemary, and Windex wipes. I got into three cart traffic jams with other customers (at some point I heard someone yell "Hey, look out! Women shoppers!"), had to stand on my toes to reach the Windex wipes, couldn't find any suitable coffee (the T-discs must be in the same isle as crème fraîche) got coffee creamer only to discover upon return home that I already own the exact same creamer and it has not been even opened yet, and filled my cart with freshly baked chocolate cookies which were not on the list of course. All this before I arrived to the produce department. If I would have started at the produce I would have run like hell and went to the other three stores I usually shop at. There was no produce in produce. Something ate everything: either a swarm of locusts or everyone decided to juice while watching the Bears yesterday.

They were in the process of restocking, but it was going very slowly because it took two people to decide that the compressor hidden under the trays of salad was malfunctioning. There was a lot of staring at the compressor involved while holding trays of peppers, which meant that none of us were getting the peppers at that moment. I was the brave one that interrupted that little conference not once but twice, first for beets, second for cabbage. I was very polite and even gave them a smile. As I rolled toward checkout I commented to myself that even in Russia no one stands in line for cabbage anymore. iPhones – yes, cabbage – no.

Silly me, I brought my reusable bags with me (once again, in the wrong store). The packing guy looked like he knew what to do with them, until the cashier told him not to put bananas on the bottom of the bag and he had to start all over. My brain was now replaying a scene from Innerspace where the checkout girl crushed a gallon jug of apple juice on top of a carton of eggs while chewing gum with her mouth open. My carton of eggs went in sideways. I rolled out a cart full of shopping bags, but on the way to the car I realized that the two that I brought were half-empty and I had four extra plastic bags containing my stuff. I had to repack everything in the parking lot. Sure enough, all my purchases – including the overly-leafy beets, the super tiny head of cabbage, and the weirdly-shaped fennel – fit into the two bags that I supplied. When I got home I discovered that one of my eggs was cracked on the bottom. Maybe the guy needed some gum to chew.

I still need to make a coffee run tomorrow. Unless I can ply my borsch-making visitor with a cappuccino instead. That I have plenty of.

Still no crème fraîche in the dairy isle...