Mr. December and I went grocery shopping this morning. Since I know the layout of the (enormous) supermarket better than he does, I tried to set us up for success (and efficiency) by creating a shopping list superimposed on a crude map of the store:
Unfortunately, the list seemed to help very little. We split up at the door, Mr. December heading to get the dry goods while I started in the produce section. I called to check in on him when I finished with produce — he was in aisle 5. I moved on to the Deli tables, then the bread section, then the Kosher meat section. I called him again.
“I’m done Kosher meat. Where are you?”
“I’m in aisle… uh… three.”
“Seriously? OK. I’ll get the dairy stuff and the frozen foods and meet you in the Kosher aisle.”
After 45 minutes I had finished with six departments. Mr. December had done most of one, but hadn’t been able to find the cocoa (top shelf in the baking aisle, NOT the coffee aisle) or the lemon juice (in the “cocktail juices” aisle). To be fair, he bought a ton of things that weren’t on our list at all, like 10 jars of pickled beets. Anyhow, I picked up the items he couldn’t find and we lined up to check out.
“You know,” He began in his best engineer-solving-a-problem voice, “if you use something like cocoa and you know you go through a can every month or so, just buy twelve cans and be done with it.”
“Because it’s more efficient that way. You buy twice as much half as often. Keep track of your inventory and you’ll never run out. You also won’t be without soy sauce for four months because the stuff you like is never in stock. When you see it in stock, buy a whole case.”
“You’re trying to solve a problem that isn’t really much of a problem,” I explained patiently. “Soy sauce aside, we’ve never had an issue getting what we need when we need it. I have to shop every week anyway because fruits and vegetables just don’t last very long. So what if I also throw a bunch of boxes and cans in my cart? What’s the problem with that?”
He opened his mouth to respond, but my gaze dropped to the contents of his cart and I cut him off. “Why on earth are there five cans of kidney beans in your cart? Do you KNOW how many cans of kidney beans we still have? Twenty-two! We don’t need more! We don’t even particularly LIKE kidney beans!”
“Really?” He asked mildly, “I thought you liked them! I bought more because we’ve been eating them so often lately.”
“WE’VE BEEN EATING THEM BECAUSE YOU BOUGHT THREE DOZEN CANS! WE’RE TRYING TO GET RID OF THEM!!!!”
In the end, and against my recommendation, the kidney beans came home with us. It was more efficient that way.
When we arrived home, I flung open the front door and announced, “Child Labour to the car! It’s time to mobilize!”
N came running and immediately began to unload the groceries; K took a few minutes longer (she always does; I swear someone gave her a molasses transfusion to slow her down. It’s the only explanation that makes any sense.) Once it was all inside I began to sort through the boxes and bags, dividing them up into what would stay upstairs in the kitchen, and what would need to be stored in the basement.
“Hey, K.” I said, “I need you to take this stuff down to the basement for me.”
She complied. Then I sent her again with more bags. N joined her with bags of his own. A few trips later, the kids said something like, “Why do I have to do this? I don’t want to!”
“Excuse me?” Mean Mommy (my alter ego) said in disbelief, “Do you EAT in this house? Do you BENEFIT from there being FOOD in this house? Yes? Then you have to contribute some effort to restocking it too. Abba and I spent an hour and a half this morning grocery shopping. I think you can spend fifteen minutes taking things down to the storage room.”
There were no more complaints after that.