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  • mariokiefer

Grocery Shopping


She lugged the 2 six-packs of empty glass soda bottles into the grocery store.  She showed the clerk what she brought in then went about her shopping.  She bought two more six-packs of soda knowing that she would not have to pay the deposit on the bottles since she brought the empty ones back. She didn’t know exactly what happened to those empty bottles, but she had been told that the soda makers picked them up, sterilized, then reused them -- just like the milkman. She headed to the produce and the man who worked the area helped her choose the best asparagus for tonight’s dinner. He wrapped it in paper and handed it to her. The woman behind the meat section helped her with the pork chops she wanted, wrapped them in paper and tied the package with string before handing it to her. She didn’t pick up any dairy - the milkman dropped off her milk in glass jugs, along with fresh farm eggs, and cheese.  Her milkman got his stock from a local farm about fifteen miles away and delivered his wares along his route throughout the county. Her delivery day was on Monday which suited her just fine.

Having gotten everything she wanted, she pushed her cart to the check out line. She watched the plastic tags flip over each other as the cashier punched in the price of each item then spit out a printed sales receipt that showed the total.  She was short on cash this week, so she retrieved her check book, filled in the blanks on the form and signed it.  She didn’t need to show ID, the cashier, like everyone else in town, knew who she was. The cashier asked how her husband and kids were doing and made small talk as the bag boy finished packing her groceries into paper bags. She looked over making sure he double-bagged the heavier items. It would not do to have the bag rip letting its contents spill on the ground. Besides, the extra bags were quite handy for covering school books, wrapping items, or for use in small trash cans. The bag boy followed her to car and put the groceries into her trunk. She handed him a cash tip and received an exuberant thank you from the boy before she climbed into the driver’s seat and headed home. From her rearview mirror she watched him push her cart back to the corral where it belonged.


Before going to the grocery store she checked her recycling bin and noted all of the empty cans of soda that would go out with the bins on Thursday.  She didn’t know whether it was true or not, but she had read a story that alleged the items in the recycling bin (a bin for which she paid extra each month, mind you) only ended up in the very same landfill as the rest of her garbage. She shrugged her shoulders recognizing that she likely never would know the truth of that story. As with most thing, it was probably partly true and partly false. Besides did she even really care? She had never seen the landfill and didn't even know where it was.

At the store she started to pull into a parking spot then stopped. There was an empty cart blocking her way, so she pulled back then parked her car two spots down. In the store, she brought three 12-packs of soda. She didn’t need or even really want three but if she bought three she got a fifty-cent discount on each.  She wondered if spending $28.50 for three versus $20 for two was worth the discount, but she bought three anyway. If they didn't drink them this week, they eventually would. She rummaged through the produce to pick up some pears and pushed aside the apple and plum that some other customer carelessly mixed in with them. She pushed aside the wilting cilantro poking toward the bottom of the bin in search off something fresher. She placed her chosen produce into little plastic bags.

At the meat section she bought two packages that had been reduced for quick sale: "Buy one, get one free!" the sticker that was affixed to the plastic that wrapped around the styrofoam backing read. Sure the meat was a little gray at its edges and she knew she would have to cook it tonight or by tomorrow at the latest before it completely went bad, but that was why it was reduced in the first place. Besides when she thought about it, how could she be certain that the pinker meats were that color of their own accord. For all she knew, the grocer dyed the meats to make them look fresh.

At the dairy section she picked up a gallon of milk in its plastic jug. She preferred the brand that came in the half-gallon glass containers but could not justify paying $6.99 for each half-gallon when the plastic full-gallon was half the cost at $3.50. She retrieved a carton of egg-whites only, and a bundle of cheese that was pre-packaged into individually wrapped single slices. She wasn’t even certain if it was real cheese, but her kids liked it on their sandwiches whether it was or not.

There were no manned cashier stands open so she went to self-check out, scanned her items, and bagged them herself. Each of the plastic bags she used to carry her groceries would cost her ten cents, but she had forgotten to bring the reusable ones for which had paid $4.99 each.  It seemed she always forgot them and ended up paying for the plastic ones, anyway.  It was to save the planet from the scourge of plastic, or so they said, but she didn’t see how it made much of a difference when everything else in the store was wrapped and packaged in plastic.  She shrugged her shoulders. At least she knew she was doing her part.

She inserted her debit card, pressed “no” when asked if she wanted to donate a dollar to the “send your girls to summer camp” program, pressed “no” when asked if she wanted to donate to the “help feed the hungry program”, then pressed “no” when it asked her to take a brief survey. Finally, she entered her PIN. She pressed the button to approve the transaction, then the one that said to email her the receipt rather than print it. (Gotta save the planet, she thought.) She entered her email address before the machine’s display showed “Thank you” in its green glowing font.  She put her bags into the cart then stopped to let the person who monitored the self-check out stands look at her receipt and the bags in her cart before he waved her away.  She took the groceries to her car and placed them in its trunk. She knew that she should take her cart to the corral, but remembered the one that had blocked her way earlier. She shrugged her shoulders, pushed the cart into the empty parking spot next to hers, got into her car and drove away,


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