Short Story Saturday

1/22/98

My Trip to Stop-N-Shop

                Through the sliding glass doors I see the bright lights, sale signs, and elaborate displays. A pyramid of Pepsi catches my eye. It’s not on my list, but it is a necessity. The aroma of fresh produce steers me in its direction. The bright red tomatoes, the leafy green cabbage, the yellow summer squash, the outrageously high prices. I grab a bag of apples and move on.

                “Attention shoppers, get two dozen donuts for half price in our bakery.”

                Isle by isle neatly stacked cans and boxes claiming they’re “new and improved,”  “low-fat,” “better tasting.” “Get 20% more for the same low price,” “buy one get one free.”

                A woman in hair rollers and house shoes strolls by. Kids run up and down the cereal isle grabbing boxes of Cap’n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, and Coco Puffs.

                “Mom can we get these, can we?”

                “Pick one and let’s go. Your father’s waiting in the car.”

                Nearing the frozen food section, I encounter a sweet faced woman who offers passing shoppers a free sample of Totino’s Pizza rolls.

                “They’re on sale today.” She says with a smile.

                I decide to resist.  The smell of cheese, pepperoni, and spices was tempting, but I had just enough money for the items on my list. I would have to choose between pizza rolls and Pepsi, and I wasn’t about to put back my Pepsi. Last stop, the dairy section, 2% milk and grade A large eggs.  My list is complete.

                I stand in the longest checkout line, which is ironically the ‘express lane.’ A cashier in training is operating the register, waiting for the manager because she’s too young to ring up the six pack for the man in front of me. I count my items to make sure I have fewer than twelve, not that I would get out of line if I had more.  As the register light flashes, I read the captions of the tabloids that line the isle: ‘Liz Taylor and Michael Jackson are having a baby,’ ‘Elvis has been spotted on Mars,’ and ‘You can lose ten pounds in one week on the Super bowl Diet.’

                “Do you have a shopper’s club card?” The cahier asks, letting me know she is ready to ring up my groceries.  I hand her my card and begin piling my items on the conveyer belt.  As the cashier scans each item, I check the register screen to make sure the sale prices are scanning. I nervously play with the money in my pocket, hoping I have enough.

                “Fourteen dollars and ninety-five cents.”

                “I could have gotten the pizza rolls,” I think to myself as I hand the cashier a twenty. I check my receipt and walk through the sliding doors to my car. I know I’ve forgotten something, I always do.

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