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THE ZEN OF SHOPPING

20 November 2006

There is something very peaceful about shopping for groceries at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning, even the last Sunday before Thanksgiving.  It's the kind of peace you definitely don't find shopping in the middle of the day, especially on a weekend, especially the last weekend before Thanksgiving.

I had fed the puppies before we went out to review Beauty and the Beast last night and so when we got home at 10, I expected them to wake up at least by midnight, which would have been 6 hours after they ate.  I sat down to watch The Daily Show, fell asleep, and next thing I knew it was 5:30 and I could hear one puppy start to yip.  They had slept nearly 12 hours.

They were, of course, starving, so I got them all fed and they immediately went back to sleep in their new playpen.  I figured this would be the perfect time to get my shopping done. 

I had actually gone to the supermarket the day before, after I finished taking pictures of the SPCA dogs at Petco, but I had forgotten to bring my bank card and the place was a real zoo, so I decided I would come back in the morning instead.

It was still dark when I left the house and a thick fog blanketed Davis.  I love driving around in the fog (as opposed to driving around "in a fog," which I do most of the time!).  When the fog is thick, it seems to muffle the sound.  People on the street become like figures in an impressionistic painting. 

There were almost no cars in the parking lot when I arrived at Nugget Market, as opposed to yesterday when I had to hunt for a parking space.  I took the space closest to the store.

I was apparently the first person in the store to take a shopping cart.  The carts were lined up so perfectly outside that I regretted not having brought my camera with me.  Would have made a good photo.

It was the same inside the store.  The produce department looked like a magazine ad, everything shiny, lined up perfectly, no holes in the lettuce bin or the broccoli section where vegetables had been picked over.

As I wandered around the store, I ran into personnel, waxing the floor or straightening the shelves.  Everybody was friendly and went out of their way to say hello, which never happens at 4 p.m. in the afternoon, by which time they are sorely overworked and don't have time to notice customers wandering around the store.

I loaded up the cart, noting with pleasure that on holiday weeks, butter is usually on sale ($2.50 a lb today, as opposed to the usual $3.35...by far the cheapest place in town to buy real butter).

When is this country going to OD on Rachael Ray?  She was on the meat department video, on the back of Ritz cracker boxes, and Triscuit boxes.  Her own magazine was in the magazine rack and she graced the cover of at least one magazine at the check-out counter.  I swear she's on every TV program, from her own several cooking shows to her talk show to guest appearances.  I expect her to turn up as a corpse on CSI any day now. Surely she's going to burn out soon!  I used to like her, but I'm starting to find her eternal perkiness just annoying.  If there were a perkiness quotient, she has exceeded it by far.

When I finally had my cart piled high with groceries, I was the only person in the check out line.  Lemme tell you, I had the most perfectly packed grocery bags ever in the history of bagging.  Isaac, the bagger, lined up five bags in front of him and carefully arranged everything in each bag so that it fit perfectly and the bag wasn't too heavy.  He would remove things and substitute something else if he wasn't happy with the way things felt the first time.

I laughed and told him that I appreciated the care he was taking and realized that four hours from now (he had only been at work 5 minutes, he told me), he would just be throwing things into bags and not chatting with the customers, as he was with me.

I don't usually have baggers take my groceries to the car with me, but I was enjoying hearing about Isaac's plans for Thanksgiving, which included "visiting my family and bugging my sister," so I let him walk me out to the car.  He loaded the groceries into the trunk with the same care and precision that he had used to pack the bags in the first place.  Then he gave a cheery wave and took the cart off across the parking lot to pick up other empty carts.  He disappeared in the fog as I got into the car.

It was light as I left the parking lot, and the fog had thickened.  The city was coming to life.  People rode by on bicycles, hunched over the handlebars and blending into the grey as they passed by. 

On the radio, Bernie Ward was hosting "God Talk" and discussing priestly celibacy.

I returned home to Leaping Lizzie, who wanted to eat.  Now.  and to puppies who heard me arrive and thought that meant another meal (it didn't).  The peace quickly dissolved as I began to unload Isaac's so perfectly packed bags, feed the dogs, and make coffee.

I don't know that 6 a.m. Sunday will become my usual shopping time, but it sure was a pleasant way to jump start my morning today.

 

PHOTO OF THE DAY

 

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