Aug 9, 2011

Big City Life: Lesson 1

Lesson 1: "Stockpile" is as good as Greek to the Charlotte uptown-er

Have you ever gone somewhere and felt like you might as well be wearing a straw hat, fanny pack, and black socks with sandles? You felt so tourist-y that you craved an "I love NY" t-shirt so that you would at least have a visual explanation for your behavior without having to explain yourself 209 times to each person you passed by? That was me.

Its not a rarity for me to embarrass myself. It happens quite frequently actually. I've learned to live with it and my experiences usually do make for excellent party stories (or blog posts). Had I been born blonde it would probably even be considered an endearing quality. However, with my brunette locks I think it just falls into the category of "you have to be embellishing because there's no way anyone can be that stupid". Again, I'm ok with it.

As Adam and I moved to Charlotte, I was certain that "Big City Life" and I would have a few words. Oh did we. We all out brawled at the uptown Harris Teeter.

For you folks who might be unfamiliar with how things are done in the south, let me give you a brief, yet informative, summary. When you live in Mississippi, odds are you live in a neighborhood. Down the street from another neighborhood. Which is up the street from yet another. You must drive "into town" to obtain all necessities. It makes little to no sence to make this drive each day. Oh no. You face Wally World maybe twice a month. You stockpile what you need so that you DON'T drive into town a hundred times.

Not so much the case here. I found this out in probably the most difficult and embarrassing manner, but that IS the intended purpose of mistakes, right? To learn something valuable. I mean, it made sense - we went to a grocery store "in the 'burbs" recently and their prices were twice as high as the prices I found at the uptown grocery. Given that we are on a ramen-noodle-every-night budget, it seemed only practical to do my shopping at the place with the lowest prices. The fact that the store is only half a mile from our apartment also made it even more economical.

Cut to Jessica in the uptown Harris Teeter. I immediately stuck out like a sore thumb. My khaki cutoff shorts and v-neck polo t-shirt were a striking comparison to the crisp white button downs I was spotting all over the store. Yes, I had come at 5:30 when most of the uptown workers were making their daily run, but my disheveled appearance was the least of my worries.

I felt good when I left the house. I had an entire month of meals planned and a highlighted grocery list to cover the first two weeks worth. It was organized and it was perfect. Until I started my venture in locating the items on my list. My cart quickly filled and became more and more difficult to maneuver through the narrow obviously-intended-for-basket-shopping aisles. After the 12th person or so gave a very disgruntled "excuse me" as I stood cluelessly in front of the black beans, I knew this was no longer a good idea. These people ran into the store after work, grabbed their organic romain hearts, hummus and wine, and left. I was the crazy bag lady.

My fears were only later confirmed when a fellow shopper felt the need to openly comment on my new crazy bag lady stockpile..."Honey, look! Damn, we need to be going to her house!" That was the final straw. The lemon juice I had been in pursuit of for almost 30 minutes was now a distant memory. I was taking my crazy self right the checkout line and ridding my mind of this horrible place where at any moment the angry villagers would start throwing their freshly packaged caprese salads at me.

I knew the checkout line would too be an undertaking. Given I was unloading this monstronsity alone it would take time. Time I didn't have. I quickly begain placing my items on the black conveyor belt hoping the cashier would go all "Employee of the Month" on me and scan them as quickly as I put them down.

My dreams partially came true. She was quick. She even thanked me for organizing them on the belt, saying it made it so much easier for her to scan and bag them. I couldn't help but use the segway as an opportunity to explain. "Oh gosh, I usually try to organize them a lot, but I'm just trying to be quick because I know the people behind me are about to kill me! No one wants to get behind"that lady". Ya know, the one with all the groceries". The couple behind me threw out an insincere "oh, you're fine..." as I continued tossing items like a dang fire juggler. I then knew it was necessary to explain the situation to them as well... "when you have a little one its hard to make it to the grocery store a lot so you jump on the opportunity to stock up when you can!" The went on to say something about their little one but I was too focused to pay much attention. In attempts to save myself from the sneers that would surely follow upon my exit, I tried to make conversation with the cashier. I said we had just moved here and I was starting to get the impression people don't exactly "stockpile" here. She said no and talked about how she usually sees customers every day. Seems silly to me, but as Adam put it, "not every person in uptown turns their coat closet into a pantry to fit all their dang cans". Touche.

Feeling completely defeated, I slumped away to my car and began pondering how to get my massive load up to our apartment.

When I arrived back and shared my story with the hubs, he didn't fail in his usual response. Insane laughter. I knew to expect it. He loves to sugar coat it with the fact that I just tell stories so well that it makes them all the more funny. Good try my love. However, I must say that after my immediate drink, the situation was quite humorous. When I walked to the fridge for a refill and stopped to stare at my OCD meal calendar, Adam inquired "strategizing your next trip crazy bag lady?" I was all but on the floor laughing.

I might have given a few people in uptown Charlotte something to bitch about when they got home, but they gave me a hilarious story to tell my husband. And, in the midst of organizing, finding insurance policies, changing banks and all of the other fun adult duties, I'll take a laugh however I can get it.


Anonymous said...

Well, I say, well done u for taking the bull by the horn and being so ultra-organised. Learning how things are done takes time but just remember, if u should come across exactly the same situation as u, in time to come. Maybe, u will be the one to show a smile of comfort or encouraging word, having been there yourself!

Jesica said...

Hahaha! Love it! I am the opposite, the big city girl trying to stockpile...something I've completely forgotten how to do since I moved from a small town 10 years ago. I still live in a big city, but it's San Francisco and I'm enough outside of downtown that these are all family peeps and everyone fills their carts to the brim and here I am at the grocery store at least once a day with my little basket to pick up my 5 items I need for dinner. I would LOVE to learn how to buy enough groceries for a month...that's impressive!


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