Saturday I experienced a small miracle in that I was actually functional enough (not that hungover) to go work out at the gym. 1 hour on the elliptical later and I’m starving. Only problem? I don’t have any food in my house. Well, okay, I have one apple and an avocado, but that does not a lunch make. Okay, you got me again, it’s my lunch during the week while I’m dieting, but not while I’m starving. The other problem? I’m craving a sandwich. Like if someone held a gun to my head and said I had five seconds to choose my lunch order I would have been like, “CHICKEN SANDWICH” and spared my life.
Okay, I think. I can either go to Dave’s Cosmic Subs and get an amazing sandwich that could last me for both lunch and dinner but let’s be real, I’m going to eat it all right now, or I can go to Kroger and buy meat and cheese and that will hopefully last me a few sandwiches worth and be more economical in the long run.
In the name of being a more financially responsible “grown-up,” I hit up good ol’ Kroger. It won’t be that bad, I reassure myself. It’s like a half mile away and I’ll be in and out in 10 minutes. Repeat after me: bread, spinach, meat, cheese. Spinach, meat, cheese, bread. Get in and get out, soldier.
I run inside and make a beeline for the deli counter. I stand there for what feels like 5 minutes (I didn’t bring my phone in with me so I have no conception of actual time), before a timid worker leans over and mumbles something.
“What?” I say. He re-mumbles the previous sentence.
“I’m sorry, what?” I say again, leaning over so far I could probably give him a quick kiss if I want (I don’t).
“I said I’ll be with you in a minute.”
“No problem,” I say with a smile. I can do this, right? It’ll only be a minute, he says.
I start wondering if he’s forgotten I’m here, then I notice the deli guy is MIA because he’s busy helping a woman standing next to me. I would say in line but there is no organization to our standing patterns. How do I even know she was here first if there’s no line?
“How much cheddar do you want?” the deli guy asks the lady next to me.
“Oh, just three slices is fine,” she answers.
Three slices of cheese? THREE?! How good is this deli counter cheese that you had to wait on line for 10 years and couldn’t just buy the pre-packaged kind? I mean, Sargento is pretty good is all I’m saying.
And how is it taking his long? This guy must be new. He goes back somewhere, cuts three slices of cheese off this huge block so slowly, like some of us aren’t waiting here with our blood sugar dropping into the danger zone.
He finally brings the three (three!) slices of cheese up to the scale and looks through this big plastic rotating tube thing with a bunch of writing on it and it becomes apparent that this guy is very new. Please kill me now. What should have taken 45 seconds, max, is now taking 20 minutes. If only I’d chosen that fake Oscar Meyer “turkey” stuff that comes in a plastic tub, I could have been out of here by now—but noooo, I just had to go for the real stuff.
Fuck it, I say to myself, and perhaps slightly aloud. I ain’t got time for this. I walk briskly over to the produce and grab a bag of spinach. By the time I get back to the deli counter, New Guy is still ringing up this lady’s trio of cheese slices.
He hands her a small plastic bag, and she says, “Can you tell I really like cheese?” Well no, actually, I couldn’t tell, because most people who like something would buy more than one serving of it at a time but hey, that’s none of my business.
Finally, it’s my turn. “What can I get for you?” the rookie asks.
“I’ll take a quarter pound of the Boar’s Head Ovengold Turkey,” I say (because I don’t trust Kroger brand deli meats), “and a quarter pound of the Havarti with dill cheese.”
“You don’t want the Havarti with jalapenos, right?” he asks.
“No, the Havarti with dill.”
“Okay, I’m just going to have to go back to the fridge.”
I wonder if I’m going to faint. I am starting to feel kind of weak and a little sleepy, but on the other hand the only time I’ve actually fainted was after I fasted for a full 24 hours—less the half hour when I fainted—so I think I should be okay. I hope. I try to contain my deep sighs of frustration and my eye rolls.
It’s not this guy’s fault, part of me thinks. But this is taking fucking forever. I could jump behind that counter and slice my own damn meat faster than this. Slice my own damn meat, and then smash his head into the counter, just for good measure. Hunger, it sure does crazy things to ya. The guys at Snickers were right. I’m really wishing I hadn’t been all, “I’ll just leave my phone in the car, this will take 3 seconds” because now I have nothing to do but think my homicidal thoughts.
After 15 hours (Hungry Standard Time), I’m finally handed a small plastic baggie. I take a few steps away, only I give the baggie a once-over and realize this is only the cheese, and the turkey is still on the way. Tears well up in my eyes, so to quell them I fantasize about punching somebody right in the face. Anybody. I’d even punch myself in the face at this point.
At long last I get the turkey. I don’t even bother wishing the guy a good day, too, because I’m already halfway to the bread aisle. Bam, bread. Boom, honey mustard. In my cart. Fuck yeah. Okay, let’s go. I run to the checkout counter. There’s one open counter. And it’s express checkout. Something efficient! Could it be?! I start unloading my groceries onto the conveyor belt, when the cashier inexplicably leaves. No, wait, where are you going? When will you be back?? Can I just leave my money on the counter??!
“Some customer left his ID,” the middle-aged man in front of me explains.
Oh god. Don’t leave me! How could you leave at a time like this? I knew I should’ve used the self-checkout! The cashier returns, and I blink the rage-tears out of my eyes. I can see the end in sight. The delicious, salty, juicy end.
“That’ll be 40.97,” the cashier says to the man in front of me.
The man pulls out his checkbook and a pen. I pull out my cleaver and hack up everyone in the store. Just kidding, I don’t even have a cleaver, but at that moment I sort of wish I did.