Free Falling

As anyone who regularly reads my Facebook posts knows, I have a love/hate relationship with the grocery store. My experiences have included a trip through the self-checkout entirely in Spanish, a woman loading groceries into a suitcase and a man who put his entire hand-held basket on the conveyor and expected to scan the items through the slats without taking them out of the cart. Yet, each time I shop I have a renewed sense that I will emerge unscathed from drama.  Such was the case when I went to Giant last night. I only needed a few things so I was focused and efficient. That is until I got to the cereal aisle. A sign under all the General Mills Cereal read that buying four boxes would earn me a free gallon of milk. As all kids know, General Mills is home to Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms and a host of other cereals that could be considered a dessert item. But, as my kids know, I buy them anyway. Since I already had milk in the cart and I did need cereal, I got a little giddy. I go through a gallon of milk every couple of days and it only takes one day to consume a box of cereal, so this was a good deal for me. I picked four boxes that were already on sale and went on my way. When I got to the check-out I anxiously awaited the big moment when the register put a big fat minus sign next to the 3.69 for milk. No drumroll. No minus. Nothing. Crickets.  When I asked the cashier about it, she gave me a blank stare, snapped her gum and directed me to customer service. Then, because I am Catholic and guilty by nature, I started to second guess myself. Maybe it was only a half gallon of milk. Maybe it wasn’t applicable to the cereals that were on sale. However, I soldiered on and presented my case to the manager. Her first reaction was ” I think that was last week.” To which I replied, “Well, there are about 400 signs posted all over the cereal aisle so that’s a problem.”  She flicked the pages of the circular in an exaggerated fashion that assured me she was annoyed and found nothing.   I busied myself standing my ground while she disappeared into the bowels of the store to investigate. She returned with the same blue sign that I had seen which buoyed my spirits.  That is until I saw the look on her face. The look was akin to one reserved for lost puppies and small scale pity-parties.   “They have to be purchased separately”, she says.  “Um, what?”  “Seperately, by themselves”, she answers slowly like she is addressing a dense child.  She holds up the small blue sign and vaguely waves at the bottom. I assume this is the small print that was concealed by the box of cereal on the shelf below and therefore undecipherable. I realize in this moment that Giant, General Mills or both actually expect someone to walk into the grocery store, purchase nothing but four qualifying boxes of cereal and a gallon of Giant brand milk and check out. No gum. No magazines. No Ben & Jerry’s for watching the New York Housewives. She is giving me her best fake, pageant smile and handing me back my receipt. Done. Dismissed. Thanks for playing. The gentleman who has been patiently waiting to buy cigarettes throughout this exchange sees his opportunity and starts to speak. I cut him off as she moves toward him and his shoulders slump.  “Excuse me,” I interject, “but that is ridiculous so I am either returning two boxes of cereal or getting my money for the milk.”  The manager bestows the same fake, pageant smile on the beleaguered cigarette guy and slides back down the counter toward me. She speaks slowly through her teeth while keeping that smile plastered in place. “Well, I guess we can work something out. Do you have your receipt?”  Since she knows she  just handed me back my receipt, I conjure up my best pageant smile and grit out “Why yes, here you go.”  She taps the register loud enough that I can hear her nails clicking against the keys until the drawer pops out. The cigarette guy is starting to shift and pace a little. She hands me my money without ceremony and slams the drawer shut. As I turn to leave, I hear the manager say to the cigarette guy ” I am so sorry, people see the word “free” and lose their minds.”  It took everything I had to just keep on walking out of the store.  I kept reminding myself I am “free” to shop anywhere I choose.


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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

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