Pushing a cart unperturbed yet furious

5 10 2009

Grocery Basket - Rustans 01

BARRING CONSCIOUS knowledge of the science behind supermarket display layouts, I think I have a good understanding of why some things are kept way at the back.  Some along the aisles.  And still some front and center, right where my expanding girth pushes the rest of my body through the turnstile.  I’ve long given up on track-and-field (In school I was pulled out because I was – in their words – “vying for honors”).  I’ve shunned badminton too (nobody to play with).  So I’ve gravitated towards grocery shopping and have since adopted it as my sport.

This is a task I have assigned to myself.  I usually do it every other week.  And in the days in between those, there’s a high likelihood I would find myself ensconced within its walls – by the promotional display, strolling through the aisles, fighting for meat at the deli counter, spending time with butter lettuce and triple-washed arugula till I hear their voices in my head.  I have the usuals taken care of on the scheduled trips.  The ones I take purely on a whim are those that ride on whiffs of sudden inspiration.  A bubble thought of fresh coriander can stop me on my tracks and make me walk to the nearest purveyor of fresh produce.

Last Friday’s was one of those moments of whimsical motivation.  It was like any other Friday, except that the gustiness of the wind that was wreaking havoc on my Prada model’s bangs told me loud and clear what everybody was blabbering about since the morning – a super typhoon was about to hit.

Like a duck I sailed through the human traffic unperturbed, my heart silently beating fast as I eyed the supermarket entrance.  And then it happened – the first sign of the impending apocalypse revelead itself to me – all shopping carts were taken!  Even baskets too!  At the corner of my eye I saw a cart half-full with saran-wrapped bananas on the verge of becoming overripe.  I politely asked one of the produce guys if he could unload the contents on to his work table and give me the cart.  “Ginagamit po yan! (It is being used!)” was his curt reply.

Normally I would launch into a tirade, extolling the virtues and the rights of a good, paying customer.  But seeing as it was that a super typhoon was looming in the horizon and assuming that he was probably breaking his back with all the heavy lifting on a frenzied day, all I did was breathe, exhale and smile.  I turned to the other side to allow the chaos around me to sink in when unexpectedly, a kind-hearted sales associate approached me and handed me a cart he waited for at the end of one of the counters.  A good Samaritan.  See, it’s true that “where I come from, everyone’s a hero.”

So, with the craziness that could rival shopping for Christmas or New Year’s, I pushed my cart and almost felt I had to elbow other people for goods.  But as I have said, I was surprisingly calm.

The first thing that caught my eye was how fast the bread shelves were cleared.  Virtually in a snap!  I gave myself a pat on the back for reaching out for a couple of loaves the moment I swung by the display.  Because the moment I turned around to move away from a shopping cart altercation, not a single loaf was to be found!  The instant noodles were wiped out.  A couple of tumbled cans of corned beef were all that reminded me where hundreds used to stand ignored.  Sacks of rice were whisked away by helpers lunging forward through crowded passageways.

I ended up not really getting the basics – more like just the nice-to-haves.  And as my brother loves my angel hair pomodoro, I threw in my cart San Remo angel hair pasta, canned tomatoes – Hunt’s diced and stewed tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese.

I fell in line, not really choosing anymore where, as every counter was queuing shoppers like crazy.  I was sending and receiving messages on both Globe and Smart, checking on my loved ones.  My incessant texting was cut only by an enthusiastic greeting from a former colleague who uttered impulsively, “Hoy, ang taba mo! (Hey, you’ve put on weight!)”

Still in keeping with my calm demeanor, I managed a smile and engaged in the chit chat.  From time to time I was glancing down on the 1.5-liter Coke Zero in my cart imagining how well it would do for a weapon.

When she left I felt like leaving behind my would-be purchases.  I fixed my overflowing cart with a long stare and realized that while I might have posed unperturbed when I came in, I actually ended up paddling furiously underneath.

I texted Spider-man (who gave me a ride) and he sort of chided me for the amount I spent.  Later he texted me that the super typhoon went a different course.

I went to the cupboard and made pasta.

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