But one of those downs is, unfortunately, a cruel and unusual
It’s one of the most cringe-inducing activities we Manhattanites must endure. (Yes I’ve tried Fresh Direct but I prefer seeing expiration dates and picking out my own produce, thank you very much.)
Now I don’t mean cringe in a holy SHIT, that’s expensive! kind of way - although believe you me, paying double for the same product as our suburban counterparts do can be grating. Especially when we’re strong-armed into paying such exorbitant amounts (I have learned that, unfortunately, one cannot subsist on Oodles of Noodles alone…no matter how we may wish it were so).
Utterly shell-shocking costs aside, there’s another aspect to food shopping that makes me dread Sunday afternoons.
People have no r-e-s-p-e-c-t. LISTEN to Aretha, yo!
They claw their way in front of you, smashing into your heels with their stupid little shopping suitcase - and they don’t apologize. They reach for that last pint of tomatoes, that single Stonyfield Farms blueberry yogurt, practically snatching if from your bewildered hands.
Oh, and if you’re in their way, they scream at you. Unfortunately I’m always oblivious and usually listening to tunes - therefore I often get the ole tap-tap-tap/push-push-push in addition to the ole shriek.
You can’t peruse NYC grocery aisles in a leisurely manner. In fact, I don’t think our sad excuses for stores even deserve the term “aisle”. Aisle implies walkway - not catwalk.
Gristedes and D’Agostino’s, Gourmet Garage and Morton Williams - even CVS and Duane Reade are all sans aisles. In their place are single cart lanes. Alleys. Dingy floors whose square footage can barely accommodate two parallel people let alone outrageously rude shoppers bedecked with produce and pasta, milk and meats,
Alas, the torment does not end there. After fighting the masses, after lugging around a basket that makes your arm ache with its heaviness, after maneuvering your way through the maze and back again (and again because, at least in my case, I always forget something) - then it’s time to face the lines.
Omfg the lines.
There’s nothing, and I mean nothing like the Union Square Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon. The serpentine procession of peeps weaving in and out of the bread and dessert section, the cold food bar, the prepared dinner station.
And there’s always 30+ registers open!
It’s madness I tell you, complete and utter madness. You’re corralled like cattle into 5, 6, 7 different queues while a brightly lit television screen calls out your line number - in a slightly British accent, of course. They take their civilized, humanizing little nuances where they can get them.
And don’t you dare steal someone’s register by accident. This happens often - not always on purpose - and can be quite amusing. But as someone with experience on both ends - the stealing and the stolen - pay attention to that television screen. Otherwise you’ll find yourself being whacked on the head like you just cut the old lady in the deli line - 50 pound purses are not pretty.
As if this last legal form of human torture, this sadistic food shopping routine isn’t bad enough - oh no. Then you have to carry your groceries home.
People who complain about bringing their purchased perishables in from the car - to you I say: Shut the hell up. Try lugging those reusable bags on your shoulders (I byob) for a mile, up and up, flight after flight, to your 4th floor apartment.
Heavy as can be bags with taut straps dig into your shoulders, cutting off your circulation. You arms up and die in a hellish fit of pins and needles. Your feet drag with the excess poundage. Your knees hurt from climbing all those satanic stairs. ‘Tisn’t fun.
The crowds, the expense, the teeny tiny aisles and filthy floors, the lugging! - all these trials and tribulations are enough to make me contemplate anorexia. Well, at least until Sunday afternoon rolls around and my bare cabinets and empty tum beg to be fed.
How I miss the days of grocery shopping in the real world. Of strolling through the aesthetically pleasing promenades (aka aisles), gleaming under shiny fluorescent lights. How I long for the comfort of my old Volvo and a Super Stop and Shop. How I yearn to leisurely meander, to get lost in the dozens of aisles. Sigh.
I think it’s pretty ridiculous that I look forward to food shopping when I’m in Connecticut. But, hey. ‘Tis the little things in life.