Zoe called on her way back from class, alerting me that she’s be home by 10ish.
“Oh great. Don’t park. We need to go to Safeway.”
“What? Ugh, I’m so tired. Really?”
“Well, we don’t HAVE to.”
“Oh fine. I’ll call from a block away.”
Perfect. Finding oneself at GhettoSafeway at 10:30 at night sucks in and of itself. Finding oneself at Ghetto Safeway at 10:30 when 5 people called in sick, 2 checkers are working and 50 people are impatiently standing in line is entirely another. After debating simply giving up and going home, we noted that Lean Cuisines were on sale and committed to shopping. We selected our items and filed into one of two Moscow-esque lines as Zoe stared me down with hatred and disgust.
“I’m in 4” boots.”
“Lean Cuisine. 5 for $10. You’ll live.”
The rest of the line stood in moody silence, a few people singing along to Kenny Loggins as I noted the store was scattered with half full shopping baskets abandoned near the check stands by smarter people with better things to do. “My God.” I said aloud. “I’d be willing to check some groceries. This is nuts.”
“Me too.” Sighed the dreadlocked woman before us. “And I work here.”
“It ain't my shift, but I work here.”
“Well, what’s the deal?” Zoe asked.
“I’ll go fine out. Guard my cart?”
“Of course!” we squealed, delighted to have the inside scoop.
She soon returned. “Well, they won’t let me check. There’s some kind of legal rule or shit about that shit. All kinds of lazy ass people called in sick. It’s just the manager, a checker and one bagger.”
With that, the one checker casually announced she was going on her break. I considered offering her a magazine, but as she resembled a less attractive Luther Vandross, I thought better of it.
The line slowly moved forward as I excused myself to the ladies room/apparent temporary home of a hobo. I returned to find Zoe with our baskets and somehow, in charge of a grocery filled cart, dreadlocks up ahead bagging groceries.
“We’re guarding her cart.”
“Yes. I see.”
Our line was clearly moving faster, although we’d been waiting for a good 20 minutes. And Zoe was mildly verbal in her displeasure at being dragged to Safeway late on a Wednesday night. It was finally my turn. My poor checker struggled to ring me up and bag my shit while I struggled to make my dented ATM card slide appropriately.
Thus, when it was Zoe’s turn to purchase, I decided to move this show along and bag her groceries. Fancying myself a woman of the people, I began throwing Zoe’s yogurt in a plastic bag.
Turns out, bagging groceries? Not so easy.
Graceless idiot that I am, I immediately knocked the plastic bag holder from it’s stand and for the life of me, could not re-attach it. People shifted in line and glared at me as I nervously attempted to remedy the problem while maintaining my composure. To laugh would have taken up more time and pissed off more people. But Zoe couldn’t contain herself. The image of me struggling and failing to bag groceries in GhettoSafeway in sad and pathetic attempts to appear helpful was too much for her. She got the giggles.
“Little harder than it looks, Einstein?”
“No shit. I think I broke it.”
The whole bagging contraption is surprisingly complicated, although I think it's safe to say, perhaps just to some. I finally managed to reattach it to the counter and even went so far as to double bag, although I did so quite delicately as I lacked confidence in my precarious reattachment.
We paid and got the hell out of there, taking one last look at the poor saps still in line, waiting hours to buy Hot Pockets and Mint Milanos. “I cannot believe you dragged me to GhettoSafeway in the middle of the night the one time it turns into a refugee shelter.” Zoe whined as we walked to the car.
“Yeah. But, hey. At least I learned how to bag groceries. That was awesome…”
*scroll down for updated photos drunk fathers...