Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Patience's Day of Leisure

Today was an unexpected day off. Ordinarily, I spend Tuesdays preparing for clinicals, which involves writing, pretty much the whole day, but today my instructor called and said that since tomorrow is our very last day of clinicals, she was excusing us from doing any preparation.

A whole empty day stretched in front of me. I went straight back to bed, taking a biography of Ulysses S. Grant with me. After reading for a while, about the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, and Grant's subsequent election to the presidency, I went grocery shopping.

It's been a long time since I shopped at Harris-Teeter on a weekday morning. Usually I go at night, when the parking lot is clogged with assholes stealing free parking for UVA events, and not shopping at HT at all. So aggravating! But at 10:30am, the parking lot was agreeably empty, and so was the store. I was able to browse the aisles in peace, until I got to the dairy, which is always congested.

In dairy, my cart and I got trapped behind two other carts which were blocking the aisle, while their shoppers were elsewhere. What is the etiquette here? I think it's bad manners to park your cart in such a way that others can't get by, but I hesitated about what to do, and stood there helplessly, and watched a slim young man with a hand basket deftly squeeze through the gap. Along came another shopper, a purposeful looking man in his fifties, who quickly mastered the situation by moving one of the offending carts out of the way. The cart's owner drifted over, at this point, and did not seem perturbed about the fact that his cart had been moved.

The managers at Harris-Teeter don't like to see customers standing in line, and perform a sort of aggressive crowd control, shepherding shoppers to other lanes in order to get the flow moving. This is a good thing, overall, because most people don't like standing in lines. I don't particularly like standing in line, although sometimes I enjoy the grocery checkout line because of the magazines. I had been trying to decide whether I should read about Britney's latest relapse or Paula Deane's favorite family recipes, when I was jarred out of my thoughts by a manager directing me to an open lane. So I never got to read about Britney, or Paula Deane--not that I would ever read about either of them in any place but a grocery store check out lane. But now I am being elitist. And yet, sometimes elitism can be a good thing, as my brother is fond of reminding me. (Hear that, Hilary?)

Anyway, the managers at Harris-Teeter get really, really excited if they see you trying to bag your own groceries. They do not approve of customers who bag their own groceries. No sooner do you start, then someone will swoop down on you and take over. Why is this? For "safety"? Because only Harris-Teeter associates are "qualified" to bag groceries? It seems silly to stand there like a dummy while someone else puts your food into bags. And I am particular about bags, in that I try to use as few as possible. No, I don't want my milk in a bag, and it makes me batshit crazy when baggers put a sixpack of beer in a bag. It has a handle! Why does it need to be in a bag? It also drives me crazy when they double bag heavy items. I know, I should just get reusable bags and shut up. I'll get on that.

In addition to H-T, I bought a dozen bagels at Bodo's and some asparagus and goji berries at I-Y. Because I try to be local like that. Do you think if I eat enough goji berries, I will recover the face I had at 21? Did you know the serving size for goji berries is five--five--tablespoons? I can maybe choke down two berries at a single sitting.

Once home, I hung out some laundry, drank some coffee, did a little desultory weeding in the garden. Tonight Mr. McP and I are going to see the Richmond ballet.


  1. I agree, Teeter on a weekday morning is a delight to navigate.

    I hit Whole Foods today for a major restocking of our fridge and ended up also bringing home basil and other plants, which will live in a west-facing window for a couple more weeks.

  2. A couple things:

    1. I have left Harris Teeter, balloons, cookies, and car-shaped carts nonwithstanding, because of just these exact issues. They won't let me pick a line and stand in it, ferchrissake, if I want to, I have to trundle over here, and trundle over there, and then this ends up being a longer wait so trundle to the next one... just let me REST. And then they mash the bananas. Seriously, I did go back into the store with some mashed produce once and the manager was very apologetic, but they do really just aggressively mash the bananas, no matter what. If you have large cans of diced tomatoes and also banans, the two things will become inextricably entwined before you get home.

    2. I have been wanting to read Gormenghast, and Horatio Hornblower, and also the Aubrey/Maturin novels, but I am stuck on T. Coraghessan Boyle, Harper Lee (yes, I have never read it), and Ben Marcus. If only I could get by these particular serious, mind nurturing, important novels (cough cough) I would be able to read some adventure on the high seas! And I hear that Gormenghast is so good -- I'm going looking for a review from you.

    3. The word verification for me is "UUPEUU". Har.

  3. I went to a Harris-Teeter for the first time when I was in DC. They had metered parking. Perhaps that was a function of the city more than of the store? Next time just tell them you were, at one time, a professional bagger, so you know what you are doing. You'll need to back this up with some skills though, so probably you should practice at home.

  4. Lostcheerio--that's it, you just want to rest after all that shopping. Trundle is exactly the right word.
    Jay--I think the metered parking spots are just a feature of DC and not HT.