June 15, 2018 1:55 PM
I got a glimpse into the how the other half lives today. And it happened, of all places, in the checkout line at my local Meijer store.
For those of you who don’t have a Meijer store, it’s similar to a Target with a super large grocery store attached. Our Meijer has meat and produce that rivals the high-end expensive grocery stores in my area.
I go to Meijer once or twice a month, usually when they have half pork loins on sale. Pork loin is one of the main foods Charlie can eat, so when it goes on sale, I make a trek to Meijer and buy a lot of it. At least eighteen to twenty pounds at a time.
Meijer canned vegetables are inexpensive, and they have the handy pop tops. Normally, a pop-top can vs. a can-opener can wouldn’t motivate me to hike a store roughly the size of a two football fields to buy it. However, when I’m making Veg for Charlie, having pop top cans makes a big difference. I use twenty cans of carrots and greens beans. That’s a lot of cans to open manually and my can opener is slow.
One Meijer trip a month is dedicated to buying 20 cans of canned pop-top veg for Charlie. I try to not combine the veg purchase with the pork purchase in the same shopping trip. The cart gets pretty heavy to push around with 20 pounds of pork and 20 cans of vegetables in it.
I was in a hurry today, though, so I bought both pork and veg. And I shopped for our Sheepshead card group party. We rotate playing at different houses, and it’s our turn to host this month. I grabbed a few bags of junk food, and some cute little bakery angel food cakes for strawberry shortcake. I needed bacon for a recipe I’m making. Meijer only had the super, big, two pound package of the brand I like, so I had that in my cart as well.
While I was in the meat section, I tossed a package of brisket burgers in the cart for dinner tonight. So while I didn’t buy a lot of different items, my cart was pretty heavy and laden down with meat. Lots and lots of meat.
There are down sides to Meijer. The main one is that most of the check out lanes are self-service. There are very few checkout lanes that are manned by Meijer employees and, in my experience, Meijer checkout clerks are the slowest individuals I’ve seen work a register. I can check myself out and bag my merchandise much quicker than going through a checkout lane.
However, today, I was feeling lazy, and I was pushing about twenty-five pounds of meat plus all my veg canned goods and I just didn’t feel like bagging it all myself. The check out lanes weren’t busy, so I gave it a shot.
There was a lady with a pre-teen daughter in line ahead of me. The lady was probably in her mid-thirties and she was tall and slender. I noticed this because she was wearing black crocheted pants like these.
I thought they were cute on her. Never in my life, even at my thinnest weight ever, could I pull off wearing crocheted pants. I would have to sandwich my thighs into them and little pillows of flesh would be poking out of the crocheted holes. When I peeled them off at night, the indentation from the crocheting would leave patterns on my thighs. Kind of like when you cut a tied rump roast out of it twine. Not a cute look.
When it was the Crocheted Pants’ turn to be checked out, the checkout clerk decided he needed to refill his bags. He still had, what looked like to me, plenty of plastic bags on his carousel, but apparently I was wrong. He needed more. Many more.
While I waited for him to get the bags from another lane, and load them up on the carousel (moving in slow motion the entire time, I swear!) I had plenty of time to survey the items Crocheted Pants had on the conveyor belt.
She had organic milk, frozen salmon burgers and tuna. I considered leaving the line to swap my brisket patties for salmon burgers for tonight’s dinner. I’m sure Dennis would love that. I’ve also considered making riced cauliflower “mashed potatoes” for Dennis in the past. I like being married though, and I think passing salmon off for brisket or cauliflower off for potatoes is grounds for divorce in Dennis’ mind.
Accompanying the salmon burgers, Crochet Pants also had a plethora of green veggies – fresh, not canned. She had some box that boasted quinoa as an ingredient and several frozen entrees that said Vegetarian in big, bold letters.
And there I stood, behind this bounty of healty food, with twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart. The contents of my entire cart looked like a mound of flesh – except for the canned veg and a couple bags of junk food. I wanted to tell her, it’s for the dog! All the pork is for the dog! We eat fresh vegetables, too. The canned veg is for the dog! The two pounds of bacon are for a party. So are the bags of junk food! Truly, this isn’t how we eat every day.
As we continued waiting, Crochet Pants and I, for the checkout guy to finish loading his bags, Crochet Pants’ daughter started to get restless. She was surveying the candy that lined the aisle for all the impulse purchases. Eventually, she grabbed one and started badgering her mother for it.
What did she grab? Peanut Butter cups? Nope. Snickers? Nope. Gummy Bears? Wrong again. She grabbed Extra Sugar Free gum. Her impulse purchase was sugarless gum. Even the kid eats healthy!
Perhaps, I thought, if I ate that way, I too, could wear black crochet pants without my thighs poking through like a bratwurst splitting out of its’ casing.
Did I mention that Dennis is barbecuing a beef brisket for our card party tomorrow?
When the clerk finally finished loading his plastic bags, Crochet Pants Lady produced her own reusable shopping bags for him to pack her groceries in. I would say if she produced those earlier maybe the checkout clerk would have delayed the restocking of the bag routine, but he probably saw twenty-five pounds of meat in my cart heading his way. I don’t think it would have mattered.
As the checkout clerk slowly, and methodically checked out Chrochet Pants’ groceries (I saw tofu go by!) and there was more space on the conveyor belt, I started to load my meat on it. Each pork roast was at least five pounds and encased in plastic. They made a thwap sound as I hauled them onto the conveyor, similar to the sound my thighs would make as they slapped together if I wore crocheted pants. But the meat is for the dog! Really!
Two pounds of bacon went on top of the roasts. It’s for a party. I won’t even use it all. It’s just the size they had.
When it was finally my turn to get checked out, I have to admit, I was cranky. At this point, I had spent more time waiting in the checkout line than I did shopping. I was not in mood to make small talk with the checkout guy. Apparently, he didn’t sense this.
When he saw all my pork, he laughed, and made a comment about how we must be grilling out a lot this weekend. Finally, I thought, it’s my chance to explain the plethora of meat! Unfortunately, Crochet Pants was long gone and would never know.
“It’s for my dog!” I said. “He has allergies and all he can eat is pork and lamb. I like to stock up when it’s on sale.”
The checkout guy looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Your dog?” he said, as if I told him I was going to throw the meat directly into the garbage. Obviously, he was implying that no one should be spending that kind of money on an animal. My pork was on sale for $1.30 a pound. I wonder what he would have said if I had bought the ground lamb, like I sometimes do, at $9.99 a pound?
My crankiness with this guy was escalating.
After a few moments, he said, “I have to ask so I can tell my wife tonight. How does your dog like his pork prepared?” His words were polite, his tone was not. He was judgemental and condescending. Those are the nice words that I thought. There’s were others I won’t share here.
I explained my process of grounding the meat, mashing the vegetables and frying it all together. I was very polite, even though I didn’t want to be. I did not share that the dog belonged to my dead mother and I was doing what I had to do to keep him alive and happy. No need to justify my choice. I also held back the urge to sarcastically comment how glad I was to be offering conversation for him and wife tonight. I guess it’s only fair that I provide some entertainment for him, since he provided a blog post for me.
In the few minutes I spent talking with this guy, I decided that someone who is in their late fifties and clerking at Meijer probably didn’t take the job to pass the time. That’s hard work and a lot of standing. I am fortunate that we have to means to be able to purchase the food Charlie needs. Not everyone would be able to do that. I don’t know if that is the situation that caused the clerk’s attitude or not. Maybe he’s just not an animal person. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the former and not the latter.
It was an experience using the Meijer checkout today. It showed me a glimpse into two different ways of life and attitudes. One made me chuckle. One made me mad. Next time, though, I’m going back to self checkout, no matter how many pounds of meat I’m lugging around.