Grocery shopping in this town is like a Survivor challenge - for me, anyway. We shop at a store in which you bag your own groceries. Since we only shop once every two weeks, the bagging requirements are significant.
I SUCK AT IT.
I like to think that I move through life with a fair amount of coordination, perhaps sometimes bordering on graceful. Not in the check-out line. In the check-out line I transform from a normal, relatively coordinated, almost graceful person to a bumbling idiot.
The groceries race down the chute and I am left scrambling at the end trying to stuff the goods in bags that mysteriously, maddeningly never stay open. The handles catch on every box corner, the sides fold in on themselves. Most days I leave the store sweating like pig, shaking, not even sure what or if I paid and very occasionally near tears.
Today I wasn't just near tears; I was IN tears. Over blueberries. Yup.
The trip started out uneventfully. I was calm, the store was practically empty. Everything was cool, smooth. "This is great", I thought.
Then it began. Survivor: Parry Sound.
I selected the last lane so that when my newly uncoordinated self attempted to bag the groceries, at least my cart wouldn't block other, more efficient shoppers from exiting the store. As I unloaded my things and mentally ran down my list, I realized I had forgotten something, so I asked the cashier if I could run and grab it. I zipped out, got what I needed and returned to my lane. Another cart had come behind mine and was waiting for me. Luckily the two teens and their mom were so polite and understanding that it was not a problem. I squeezed back in, and resumed sweating about my impending task.
Transaction complete, I moved to the end of the conveyor to start the heinous bagging.
Meanwhile, the teens bagged all of their groceries coolly and efficiently from the conveyor next to mine. They made interesting conversation, all the while being unfailingly polite. Their mother didn't lift a finger. "I need some of those", I thought. Finished with their bags, their mom thanked and praised them profusely and sincerely. I was really moved by their family dynamic, and this is where my emotions started to run just a little bit ragged.
Back in MY lane, I was busting ass, sweating and struggling. How is this so hard? Windex,
Middle-aged people popped up all over trying to help. The cashier - oblivious. I am mortified. A woman and a man are hunched over the floor, picked up blueberries one by one. I said "oh no, I'll get that, etc, etc", while trying to stuff the last of my groceries in a bag, but it fell on deaf ears.
They picked them all up and placed them by handful back in the clamshell container and handed it back to me. I meekly put it aside, not wanting floor berries, thanked them, and made my way out of the store in a post bagging daze.
"But what about the berries?" they wanted to know. I didn't care. I really didn't. I just wanted to get home.
I was accosted outside by a woman who had witnessed the ordeal. She wanted to know if I had paid for the berries. I had. One dollar (on sale!). She insisted that I go back and get more. At this point I was done. I really didn't care. Was tired. Another woman approached me, this time the one who had helped. Told me the same thing, and I said the same back. Then the man who helped came out. Stood with me, talked to me about the fallen berries. My eyes welled up when I told him it was okay. Really.
He said okay, and immediately returned to the store, coming back out with blueberries.
"Happy New Year", he said.
I thanked him, turned away, and started crying....yes, over blueberries, but not really. I was crying because my own personal Survivor challenge had been made a little bit easier thanks to the help of strangers that didn't have to care, but did.