31 January 2011

Foraging for groceries, the hard way

Last night I looked into my empty fridge and nearly empty cupboards, quickly reaching the conclusion that I needed to go grocery shopping.  The forecast 15+ inches of snow that may arrive this week influenced my decision.  My favorite pizza place probably won't deliver in a foot of snow.

I imagine that the threat of that much snow has me a little lot anxious.  There are preparations, sir, and procedures to follow.

Normally, I prefer to go grocery shopping after about 2300.  The store is quieter, there are less people banging carts around, blindly blocking entire aisles, and playing road warrior to get where they're going before I do.  I've always liked going foraging for groceries late at night, but lately stores here have stopped being open 24 hours.  Most of them close at 2300 now, except for the Super Wal-Mart on the other side of town.  (I'm not a huge fan of Wal-Mart, and even less so late at night.)

Last night, I got in the car to go get food at around 1915 and arrived at the nearest supermarket about ten minutes later.  There are actual grocery stores where I live-- small, usually locally owned, and usually more expensive.  It's harder to find a parking place at the small stores, too.  So off to the local megafood place.

When I arrived I found an empty parking space right away, but there was someone in the next space stowing groceries in their trunk.  Which was fine, but that person was blocking the space I wanted to park in.  The person stood there for another minute or two, most likely wondering where the orange blinking light was from (Hint: it's a signal meaning someone wants to turn into the space next to you), and then finally noticing the rattle rattle thunder clatter boom boom boom of my 15 year old car that has a bad muffler.  "Oh, do you want to park here?"
You can see where this shopping trip is headed, right?

Okay, so finally parked and headed into the store, grab a cart, head inside to the produce section.  Decided I wanted some apples, so reached for one of those plastic produce bags.  As I was about to grab one, dude comes up from behind me, bumps into me, and grabs a bag.  Perhaps he's got somewhere important to be on a Sunday night after grocery shopping, or maybe he's just a douchebag.  So okay, I get my apples, bag 'em up, and try to head down the aisle to get something else, and there's Mr. Bag, cart parked so it's blocking the aisle, on his cell phone.

It took a lot of effort not to yell "MAKE A HOLE!" as loud as I possibly could.  Maybe I should have. 

Next up-- the beer section, where I grabbed a six pack of real beer (livin' the High Life), and a 12 pack of O'Douls.  Random guy: "Hittin' the hard stuff, eh?"  Scared the crap outta me.  I replied as calmly as I could, "Yeah, I can't drink much, I'm on three different psychiatric drugs."  He backed away, slowly.  Note that's two different people that approached me from behind in the space of about ten minutes.  At this point my hands are shaking, a little.

No one else snuck up on me, but it was the same some playing-- every time I turned a corner, I was almost run down by someone who just had to get to the next aisle before me.  The aisle always had someone parked blocking the entire aisle.  Sometimes there was someone in front of me blocking the aisle, and someone behind me blocking the aisle.  Okay, not cool.  Now my hands are shaking a lot.  My ring is hitting the snap on the cuff of my jacket, making a tink-tink-tink sound.

Please, good citizens, don't sneak up on people.  Do what I do when I'm approaching someone from behind-- drag a foot on the ground or floor, and make your foot go scrrritch (or squeak) so I know you're behind me.

And it got worse from there.  It wasn't that being in a grocery store reminded me of anything in particular, but it felt crowded and noisy and threatening-- sort of like a cork floating down the river, getting banged on rocks that appear from both sides.  Maybe there were less and less people there after a while, or maybe I looked unstable and shaky enough that people just started quietly sliding out of the way.  Both are possible.

I was a little lucky, and found a checkout lane with no waiting.  My hands were shaking so much at this point that I came close to dropping several things, some made of glass and some not.  I got carded for the beer, which was ok-- that store cards anyone that looks younger than 35, so I must be doing something right.  I made it through checking out and such ok, but if anyone had been between me and the door, I'd have run them over with my cart without hesitation.

This is why I like grocery shopping after 2300 or so.   Less people, less noise, less congestion.  I know that the idea is to learn to deal with those kinds of situations better, so you can lead a "normal" life-- getting groceries is certainly a "normal" activity.   But I won't go grocery shopping that early again.  Call it avoidance if you will, but I see no point in forcing myself into what I know will be a bad situation.  It's not that I was feeling all that great before going shopping, but it took a good two hours after I got home to bring myself down to a level I'd call stable.  I have enough stress in my life without having to cowboy up for "normal" situations.

I don't like feeling or sounding angry and bitter.  Not at all.

1 comment:

  1. First thank you for writing so eloquently about your expereiences, they have been very helpful for me in opening a window of understanding about PSTD. Someone very close to me is dealing with it not from battle, but from sexual abuse and its often very hard for me to understnad where she's coming from, your words help.

    Also while you seem to be more of a night owl, I've found the best time to go to the grocery store is early Saturday or Sunday morning, just as its opening.


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