Saturday, January 20, 2007

Shopping alone

Published January 20, 2007
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

So, I did my grocery shopping today. Big news, huh. Sarah went to the store, put food in a cart, and then purchased it. Stop...the...presses.

What you may not realize is that the above announcement IS big news. SARAH (singular) went to the store. SARAH (no one else mentioned) put food in a cart. SARAH (completely and totally alone) then purchased the food. So, maybe stock prices went up or mortgage rates went down or somebody somewhere got inaugurated or assassinated. Big hairy deal. I WENT TO THE STORE ALONE AND I'M HERE TO TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT!

Eleven years of shopping with small children will do this to a person.

Shopping alone is hard to describe. it's not. It's AMAZING! I walk down the aisle and no one sits on the floor, refusing to move. I browse cereal selections and no one whines or begs. I get to the checkout with everything I need and absolutely nothing that I didn't already plan to buy. It's a miracle!

And the checkout...oh, the checkout. It was a beautiful thing. I pushed my cart up to the line with a decided swagger and announced in a brusque voice: "I am the Lone Shopper. I shop alone." After the cashier decided not to call security, we had the following conversation.

Me: "You know, if I knew anything about computer programming, I'd play with this touch screen so instead of asking me, 'Was your store clean today?' it would ask silly questions. Maybe...'Does your cashier have a mullet today?'"

Him: (Laughing) "You know, I used to have a mullet when I was a kid. I told my friend the other day that I was thinking of doing it again."

Me: "I had a girl mullet in the 80's. A girl mullet and a perm. It rocked."


Seems like a fairly boring conversation, but really, it's a revelation. The only thing I usually say in the checkout line is, "Michael, sit back down. No, Ray, you may not have a candy bar. We discussed this earlier. Evelyn, put that down. Who put the Chex Mix in the cart? SHARE the popcorn chicken, please. You know, if I knew anything about computer pro--Cate! Not okay! Miriam, you just went to the bathroom. Why do you need to go again?"

Having seen the absolute miracle of shopping alone, I've vowed to do it again as soon as possible...maybe even tomorrow. I'm definitely going to make a habit of this. I'll save money and time and maybe even a little of my sanity.

I would like to give a warning to anyone who wants to attempt shopping alone after years of shopping with kids. You may at some point find you are bored with the ease of picking up food items and placing them in your cart and having absolutely nothing else whatsoever to do. You may even feel an almost overwhelming urge to scold someone else's child in order to bring a little equilibrium to the experience. That's okay. It will pass. At least, I hope it will.

To the woman with the red headed boy in frozen foods: I'm sorry. He can have the toaster strudels if he really wants them.