Friday, January 11, 2008

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

It all started with I believe in it. Maybe I shouldn't but it's either that or the weatherman on tv and I am wary of all television news people. I live my life by what tells me. I dress for it, I plan around it, I prepare by it. Though i'm not yet sure how exactly, I'm convinced that all aspects of my life are affected by the weather somehow. I live an urban lifestyle. This means no car, public transportation, and a whole lot of time spent out amongst the elements.

Today was a day not unlike any other. The temperature had been mild outside, very pleasant. It rained a little yesterday and, having written out a marathon grocery shopping list, I kept this in mind. It's Friday and I don't want to go shopping on Saturday. I also don't want to eat bread crumbs for dinner anymore. I had to go today. I got on the computer and checked my faithful friend, It told me that true, it had been raining all night but that it was cloudy but clear now, and hour-by-hour told me that it would be that way for several more hours. WRONG!

I swear to you I even checked the weather again right before i left. I grabbed my cart and the walk down was pleasant and rainless. I bought out that store though, i'll tell you. I got everything under the sun. My first warning sign was when I slowly passed by a woman who was in the check out. I wasn't done shopping yet and normally would have passed by without a thought but the sight of her sent a chill in my blood.

She was soaking wet.

Imagine me falling to my knees, fists raised to the heavens, and shouting "Noooooooooooo!!!" Because that was what happened in my heart.

I finished my shopping pretending it had all been an illusion, a trick on the ol' eyes. I got distracted by my tasks.

But then, as i was in the check-out I dared myself to peer through the crack of random walk-men and other obsolete appliances to check the conditions outside. Well, I looked out the window and what did i see? Torrential rain, a monsoon the likes of which you will probably only experience in your worst nightmare.


Suddenly I went into survival mode like one often does here. Ok, what do i do? What are my resources?? I need to strategize!! I've got leather shoes, long draggy pants, a coat with no hood..crap! Now i'm starting to get desperate. Time is running out. She'll be done checking soon. I looked over in hopes to see some umbrellas since i had foolishly (thanks, Thanks for nothing!) left mine at home.

Fortunately, Nice Greeter Man (i see him often at the store... i do not know his name. There's also Creepy Guy and Produce Man. Oh, and Nice Dairy Guy) read my thoughts and handed me one to purchase before I was finished buying out the rest of the store. I put the heavy bags in the cart and tied the tops to minimize the amount of water that got into them. I tried to situate them so that cardboard or other sponge-like materials were on the bottom. Later i would learn this was a mistake. But people were behind me so i had to hurry. I grabbed the remainder of the bags that didn't fit, opened my umbrella out of its plastic, and shoved off.

Oh... my... so much rain. I started to laugh because of absurdity of the whole situation. Is this real? This is going to be awesome, i thought. I'm so glad i wore leather shoes. But whatever, forget the leather shoes! You're a soldier now!!!

So I set off. But before I did, i had to open my umbrella. Maybe it was the terrifying rain. Maybe it was my general inability and fear to open umbrellas. Or maybe it was broken, which i'm hoping. Whatever it was, I couldn't get it to open. I started to freak out and shake it vigorously when Nice Greeter Man came out again with another umbrella, all ready to go. He said, "I saw you couldn't open it so I brought another.." At times I am suspect of his niceness and wonder if he's not really a creepy guy in disguise. But today i could have hugged him. I said, "You are a dear! Thank you!" And then I set off.

I guess I had been in the store for a long time because this rain was not a rain that had just begun to rain. Or maybe it was but was 50 times the amount of a normal monsoon. The streets were flooded, the gutters were now small canals, and the sidewalks were flooded as well. Where to go?? Usually on a regular rainy day you avoid the puddles, right? I'm walking in one giant puddle which would I guess be a pond or a lake. With a heave I push my cart and carry 3 bags on the arm that holds up my umbrella. Have you ever done this? Held bags like that up high? You can't hold them low, not when you have an umbrella. It KILLS. And i work out, man. And it started hurting preeetty quickly.

Swimming, I mean walking through this was... amazing. I came to an immediate obstacle: I had to cross the street and hurdle huge floods in the gutters and somehow hoist my cart over them. Arm hurts...muscle fibers..tearing. Ignore it!! Suddenly, halfway across the street, I look up and see that there is a MAJOR flood gushing down the road, completely barring me from ever hoping to get on the sidewalk there. I decided I didn't want to be carried away in the current and dumped into New York Harbor today, so i checked the traffic and started walking in the middle of the street, me and my groceries. Finally i see a spot by the curb whose flood is more like a creek and drag my cart through it. All those cardboard things on the bottom.. I looked back at my cart and laughed when I saw my poor little milk jug half-immersed in water. I bet he didn't think he was going to go for a swim today. I got up on the sidewalk and bolted home. Pants soaking wet 8 inches up. Halfway there I had to switch my groceries to my other arm before it either fell off on its own accord or before i cut it off and held my umbrella with my teeth. I booked it the rest of the way home, dripping wet, cart bumping and flying everywhere, me laughing semi-hysterically the entire trip home. I am now a true, bonafide NY Crazy Lady. Somehow I made it home. I don't know how and i never will. My brain has immediately begun to block it out.

So then i parked the cart outside the kitchen door. I took the bags out and let them all sit in a puddle on the floor. It's not often you get to wipe down your groceries as you put them away. Sadly, as i counted the troops, I saw that we lost one. The pasta box was totally soaking and had a puncture wound. He will need to be eaten soon. I tell you, even the smallest mundane thing can be the hugest adventure. I've had many adventurous grocery shopping experiences where I hurt myself, almost died, wanted to curse at anything, living or dead, etc. But this has to be the worst. It was comical. And somehow fun. Maddeningly fun. And hey, all my produce has now been pre-washed.


Dom and Katie said...

An awesome account of the savage rain. I once got caught in a similar storm when I was on my bike. I was half way between the hospital and home, so either way I was in trouble. Never been wetter.

Anonymous said...

Jen, that was amazing. A wonderful recounting. Many parts made me laugh and cry, but I have a special place in my heart for that poor little milk jug.

Joel said...

During monsoon season in Korea I saw a delivery boy drive his little scooter into a 2-foot puddle. There was Chinese food everywhere!

Brooke said...

Awesome. It's a moment you really just have to enjoy, because otherwise, you'll just sit down in the middle of the flooded street and wait for it to wash you away.

Excellent narrative, my friend.

Rachel said...

Tears. streaming down my face. jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj

scout said...

I loved your story, that is AWESOME! I was stuck in it too! with the boys, on court street and we also walked through rivers to get home. it was crazy, but in the same twisted way kind of fun. I was laughing out loud and may have even been talking to myself too. We should have stopped by your place on the way home.

)en said...

yeah! we could have swapped war stories. what a crazy day... and feel free to stop by any time.

brooke--so true. wash me away...

mmm..soggy floating chinese food.

and yeah, on a bike in the rain. what can you do? pedal, that's what. pedal like you've never pedaled before...

Natalie R. said...

Wow, I'm glad you made it home! I got lucky and made it between the storms that day, but the thunder was pretty intense, huh??

Kelli said...

i was completely oblivious to any rain. is the weather so different in queens? odd.

KamilahNYC said...

So funny: Arm hurts...muscle fibers..tearing. Ignore
Those days are exhausting! When you have to battle the elements like that, just to get food it's so intense!
Glad you can laugh about it now!