Thursday, June 17, 2010

A "Quick" Errand

First of all, it goes without say, nothing goes quickly with an 88-year-old Mom whose average pace is a shuffle. It's not just about mobility. Behind the handles of a walker or a shopping cart she can power walk when she wants to, the problem is she needs to absorb every nuance during an outing right down to reading every sign and examining every piece of litter on the ground. Some environments exasperate the situation. The worst culprit for me -- the grocery store.
I used to sympathize with the moms who complain about the frustration of stores displaying enticing candy within arms reach of toddlers at the checkout -- I now say you have it easy. Your battle starts at the end of the shopping experience. Mine starts before we ever enter the store.

The other night after a long day out, I wanted to run in the grocery store and pick up two items for dinner. I should have left My Mom in the car. I didn't. Instead I coached her. "We've had a long day, we're just running in for two quick things for dinner. We're not actually shopping..." Did I honestly think she'd remember any of that? The "in and out" errand for two items nearly took two hours. It was a Sunday night and the Kroger staff had just finished peppering the entire store with bright yellow cards identifying every single item in the sale ad. My Mom is a shopaholic, she especially loves sales. We encountered the first "deal" on the sidewalk on the way in.
"Look at these, they're beautiful," she said beelining her cart to the hanging plants out front. A big bold $19.99 sign hung above the spindly, pathetic looking impatiens. Some of the flowers looked great. These particular baskets were no deal. "Let's take a couple," she said. Not wanting to start a fight, I told her we'd pick them up on the way out. Then in the foyer she found a gas grill for a mere $187 and a GIANT bag of charcoal on sale for, are you ready? Only $9.99. I couldn't convince her that she wouldn't need charcoal with a gas grill, but they were on sale so she wanted both. She already racked up over $200 in pretend purchases and we weren't through the second set of sliding doors yet. Nothing seemed out of her reach financially, but luckily for me the items were out of her reach physically. The plants hung high over head and the grill and bar-b-que supplies were up on a pallet. Inside the door it was another story. Within 3 feet we already had a half dozen 'must haves' including by one get one free coffee cakes, 10 for $10 pineapples (even though there's a one per customer limit), brownies and bread. I somehow pushed through produce, let her take one of the 10 for $10 cheese puffs and tired of hearing "wait, wait" at every single sign, I lured her a little faster into the store with the promise of finding the candy aisle.
You have to understand she doesn't just grab everything in site, she actually carefully weighs whether it's a good purchase, which is partly how these expeditions take so long, she just doesn't consider whether she really needs the merchandise. If it's a good deal, it's going in the basket. I couldn't wait for her to start analyzing the candy. There were 3 different types of sales and I was dying to see what made the most sense to her failing, yet often still cunningly alert, analytical mind. Giant Hershey bars were 10 for $10, bags of Willy Wonka chocolate squares were 3 for $6, and packs of Mars candy bars were 2 for $5. Would she notice quantity? Size or servings? Maybe even take the brand name into consideration? I stood back to let her do her thing. Within seconds she made her decision. One of each. "Well, you can't go wrong with chocolate, right?" Who could argue with that?!
It turned out to be a really good deal for both of us. She came home with probably 10 pounds of chocolate and I told her she couldn't have one until we hit the checkout which made her really motor through the rest of the shopping. A delight for us both.

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