Val is a discriminating shopper. She does not buy her groceries to warm in the microwave or heat in the oven just any old place. She would never, for instance, buy her meat at Walmart unless under duress or dire straits. Nor would she buy macaroni & cheese at Save A Lot. Some products are interchangeable. But not those.
Likewise, Val has her preferred Save A Lot location. As those recruits in Full Metal Jacket were enamored of their rifles, so is Val enamored of her Save A Lot branch. She might as well chant it...
This is my Save A Lot. There are many others like it, but this one is mine. My Save A Lot is my best friend. I must master it as I must master my life. Without me, my Save A Lot is useless. Without my Save A Lot, I am useless. I must shop my Save A Lot true. I must buy better than my fellow shopper, who is trying to kill me. I must outshop her before she outshops me. I will. Before Even Steven, I swear this creed: my Save A Lot and I are consumers of my country's bounty, we are masters of our fellow shoppers, we are the providers for my family. So be it, until there is no competitor, but peace. All hail Even Steven.
But today Val violated her creed. She shopped at a different Save A Lot. A mistake from the get-go.
I was happy to find an empty parking space near the door. Sure, it was in the second row. But I could cut right across the first row. Oh, dear. A carload of hooligans pulled in directly in front of T-Hoe as soon as the truck there vacated the space. Out clumb (yes, that is the most appropriate word for the disembarking of the driver) a rotund woman. And from the other three doors rolled three rotund nearly-adult daughters. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Val herself is no 1970s Olga Korbut.
Jupiter and her three largest moons made it into the store before me. I had to find a cart, there being only one left in the rack in front of the store, cutting down considerably on my selection time. I assume Jupiter commandeered a cart already inside the store, even though they don't have racks in there. I passed the quartet on the produce aisle, though they were not looking at produce, but at the displays of leftover Valentine hearts near the door. Down the row I went, grabbing some shredded lettuce, bananas, a tub of margarine...and made a beeline for the hamburger. I had to circumnavigate an employee holding court with a layman, and another employee dusting off her hands after having just stacked a dozen pork products in the meat cooler.
There. The object of my desire: a family pack of ground beef. I leaned over to ascertain the expiration date, and sensed a presence behind me. IT WAS JUPITER AND HER MOONS! I swear. They were as sneaky as The Sidler at Elaine's J. Peterman job. I had just pulled my cart along the beef. Now they were toeing the turf like would-be butt-gorers at Pamplona. I grabbed the first package with a reasonable date of Feb. 21, and wheeled my cart out of the way. Considerately, I thought.
"Mom. Be polite!" said Ganymede. Jupiter made a noise that sounded suspiciously like heh heh. Then she instantaneously filled the spot I had just vacated. I backtracked to go up the chip aisle, dodging Io and Callisto, and the relocated employee/customer conference. The Pony wanted some J. Higgs Salt and Pepper Potato Chips, a Save A Lot brand that he finds superior to any other offerings. Of course they were down near the floor, not like their prominent face-height display at my favored Save A Lot branch. I stooped to grab two bags, and heard Ganymede once again. "Mom...be careful with your cart."
OH! Do you know what Jupiter had the nerve to say, loud enough for Val to hear? "I'M THINKING ABOUT USING IT AS A BATTERING RAM."
But wait! Before you start texting me your RUSH handbasket orders, you must hear what I saw at the checkout line! As I waited, three deep, while another checker opened her register and said she would help someone, and Jupiter escaped my gravitational field to slingshot her orbit in that direction...an old man went up to the bread racks and commenced molesting the goods. Oh, yeah. He did not simply read the date as I had done. No sirree, Bob! He put his palm on top of the loaf and squished it over halfway to the rack. Yeah. He didn't squeeze it briefly. He crushed it. Halfway. Did that to three loaves, then took a fourth that he did not flatten.
NOW you can start texting your handbasket orders!
I shall not stray from my preferred Save A Lot branch again. I should have remembered, this is the one where the checkers gypped my mom on her slaw!