It's a Sprint, Not a Marathon


This morning, my husband and I went out for breakfast. After breakfast, we did something we almost never do - we went grocery shopping together. Unfortunately, our commissary is rather small and doesn't carry many of the items I use, so most of my shopping is done at a local grocery store.

Today, I quickly learned that my husband doesn't have what it takes to be a serious grocery shopper, and I've decided to ban him from all commissaries for fear he would never make it back home.

First, my husband is a bad grocery cart driver. He's the little old lady who is out for a Sunday evening stroll in her over-sized Buick. You know, the one who gets distracted by everything around her, doesn't stay on her side of the road and causes traffic tie-ups and accidents behind her. Kind of like Mr. Magoo.

Oh, and then there's the deli counter.... Now, when you're at a crowded deli counter where the workers don't seem to give two hoots about abiding by an orderly number system, even if people have a number, you do not let everyone ahead of you because they are female, or because they are mothers with screaming children in tow. "Ladies first" does not apply in this circumstance. Elderly people and handicapped people are the only exceptions. Chivalry is fine and well. I love chivalry. I love being married to a man who displays it, but, really, it's every man for himself at the deli counter.

Check-out was fun. We're in the check-out line and have our groceries out of the cart and on the belt. The man behind us begins to get subtly agitated because my husband didn't move up while the lady in front of us was checking out. Apparently, my husband felt he might violate some five-foot rule that I'm unaware of. This meant that I couldn't move up, which meant the man behind us couldn't reach the empty space on the belt and begin to unload his groceries, which meant that we had slowed down the entire line. I gave my husband a gentle nudge with the cart and a head nod urging him to "move it up," but he didn't really understand this signal and continued to stand there giving the woman in front of him entirely too much space. She probably thought he had regressed several decades and was playing an "ew, she has cooties" game, or something.

The theme in the check-out line is "speed and space." The finish line is within reach and you must make every second count. You're almost out of this place. Once the person in front of you has her groceries on the belt, you put the barricade up and promptly unload your groceries. You then give the person behind you space to do the same, and the cycle continues. Granted, there is another space rule that applies in this situation. You can not move up so far that the person in front of you can feel your breath on their neck, and you should never be able to read the name on their debit card, but five feet is simply too much space.

As we were walking to the car, I told my husband that he desperately needed a lesson in grocery-shopping etiquette. Well, "survival" is probably a better word than etiquette. I began ticking off the lessons he should note and apply to his next shopping venture.

Lesson #1: Grocery shopping, for our family, is a sprint, not a marathon. Get it over with as quickly as possible. While good manners should certainly be on display, don't be a push-over. You give them an inch and they'll take four miles. Be firm, but polite.

Lesson #2: Obey the traffic signals and get out of the left lane if you belong in the right lane. Other people are sprinting too.

Lesson #3:  This ties in with lesson number two. At all times, you must have situational awareness or someone will run over you, steal your place in line, curse you for not keeping the line moving or grab the last box of Special K Red Berries right out from under you.

When I was about to launch into lesson number four, my husband stopped the cart and began looking around. That's when I realized what had happened, and I added another lesson to his list.

Lesson #4: Always remember where you parked.

Honestly. I love my husband, but if he were to venture into a commissary on payday, I fear he would be eaten alive. Out of concern for his safety, my husband is banned from all commissaries worldwide. You can thank me later.

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