I dread going to the grocery store. So, since this is such a loathsome task, I make sure to go to the fanciest one in my town because, well, I deserve some extremely expensive organic grass-fed, soil-grown food if I am to suffer through this utterly horrific feat. Why do I dread this? Because these are the female shoppers who are ALWAYS in the store at the exact time that I am:

The Soccer-Hockey-Dance Mom. This chick needs to get $350 worth of groceries in 37 minutes before she has to go pick up four kids in four places so get out of her way before she runs you over. Now, I have several phobias (falling out of a roller coaster, getting stuck in an elevator, going down in a fiery plane crash, and getting my heel rammed into by a shopping cart.)  So for me this shopper poses a particular threat.

The Perfect Planner.   She has budgeted 4 hours for this arduous albeit giddy task. The weekly meal plan is scrapbook-taped to the coupon binder and all of the necessary ingredients are listed according to the location in the store. She is STOPPING TO COMPARE PRICES AND PULL OUT HER COUPONS. What? Are you freaking kidding me? This is overly intimidating and, frankly, shouldn’t be allowed. The inferiority complex I develop around these very together people must be against one of my constitutional freedoms.

The “Should be on Food Network Cook.”  These are the ones who really get on my last nerve. You can spot these shoppers with one eye roll over their cart: fresh basil, tarragon and thyme,  three different kinds of mushrooms, those mini whole chickens,  something I think is in the squash family and unpeeled carrots with the stems still on them…the ones we leave out for the “reindeer” on Christmas Eve.

Crunchy Vegan Tree Huggers. This is my favorite least-favorite. Secretly I admire these people. They buy fresh garlic cloves in their natural papery wrappers, brussel sprouts on the vine, raw butter, vegan cheese, quinoa, beets and 50 pounds of loose tea.

The Nutritional Guru Gym Rat. This is the purest evil of all the  shoppers:  12 kinds of greens, Cacao bits,  20 dozen eggs, 4 family packs of chicken breast, a gaggle of sweet potatoes, and 8 heads of broccoli. They walk the store at a brisk 10-minute mile-per-hour pace while doing bicep reps with gallon water jugs. They are perfectly toned and have only one chin. Blech. 

Me. Here is what’s in my cart:  organic raspberries, spinach, romaine and grass-feed ground beef. (I have learned a few things from the years of watching these annoying super humans.)  Pre-washed and bagged cabbage, snap peas, carrots and celery. Cheddar cheese, cheese sticks and veggie cream cheese. Wine. Turkey and ham (no nitrates). Wine. Tea bags. Lemons. Gluten-free (real) chicken nuggets. Did I pass the wine aisle yet? Toilet paper…four times as much as usual if my mom is coming to stay for a visit. (Being toilet paperless is her phobia. Don’t judge; it’s a thing.)

Suddenly a lady stops me and asks if I know where the sushi is. Why, yes. Yes, I do. Because I know where all things are in this store so I can avoid any of my above mentioned opponents. We were close to it so I walked her over and we had a lovely chat on the way. Within 30 seconds we were best friends and we both concurred that this, the dreaded grocery store, is exactly where we would want to be in case of a zombie apocalypse. We would start in the wine aisle and eat real bread and try all 749 cheeses. And to top off this unexpected lovely encounter, I was asked for my ID by the nice 12-year old checkout boy. (So did the 89 year old man in the next line, but just go with it.)  New goal:  To be kind to someone in the grocery store who has the same look of bewilderment as I do. We are all in this together.

Juli Schafer

A native of Lancaster, PA, Juli has lived in the Fredericksburg, VA area for 11 years. She and her husband of 15 years own a restaurant and a cupcake shop. (How did that happen, she jokes all the time since she doesn’t bake or cook, so don’t ask for any recipes or tips.) Her true loves are writing, marketing and event planning, Jesus and her 14-year old daughter. She proudly accepts her crazy and invites you to join her....crazy is NOT a bad word: 'Crazy' –“Full of cracks or flaws. Unusual. Distracted with desire or excitement. Absurdly fond; passionately preoccupied.” She is working on building a stronger faith, finding her true path, and being a brighter light. You can find her at http://sincerelyjuli.com/