12 Items or Less

Seems like every Saturday morning I find Kim adding items to her grocery list. When I see her doing this I’ll say, “Hey, I’ll watch the kids while you go the store” and she’ll nod in agreement. image

But I know how this plays out. Kim loves to make lists. She likes to modify lists. Sometimes she’ll start a list upstairs on a Post-It and another downstairs next to her computer. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a list in each room of our house.

I’ve learned a thing or two in our 11 years of marriage. When it comes to shopping I’ve been able to distill what I’ve learned into the following 4 scenarios:

  1. If the list contain items found at Target, Kim will do the shopping.
  2. If the list contains grocery items, I will do the shopping.
  3. If the list contains Costco items, my only involvement comes in the form of car to kitchen transportation.
  4. I don’t get to create lists. I can only add to existing ones.

So like clockwork, I found myself at Fred Meyer tonight looking for pizza sauce, sourdough bread and pineapple tidbits. Not crushed pineapple. Not pineapple chunks. But pineapple tidbits. The kind you toss on pizza. I had to call home to confirm.

I couldn’t do the shopping without a cell phone and I call Kim at least three times each trip. I get 3 life lines before I’m called home. I call to ask which type of cheese I should buy. I call to ask which yogurt flavors the kids like best (peach bad, vanilla good). Sometimes I just call to chat and to let her know I’m “testing” the grapes or bulk cashews.

Over time, I’ve refined my methods. I carry the consolidated list around with me and make a small tear next to those items I’ve put in the cart which I’ve tested to ensure it doesn’t sport the crazy wobbly wheel from hell that vibrates your entire body. I save the hard to find items for last. Like El Pato sauce. I can never find that stuff. Last week I spent 20 minutes looking for lemon juice too. I get through 98% of my list in 30 minutes and then spend the next half hour playing hide-and-go-seek with the last few hard to capture items. I’ve just plain given up looking for “Jet Puffed Marshmallow”. I don’t believe it exists and I’m convinced it’s Kim’s way of sending me on a snipe hunt.

But the real fun comes during check out. No matter how many items I have in my cart, I head for the 12 Items or Less line. Some trips I might have fewer than 12 items. Sometimes I have more.  As long as the number of items is divisible by 12 I feel I’m keeping the spirit of the law.

If there are items already on the conveyor belt I never know how far I should let them travel before it’s safe to start mine on their journey. I’ve noticed that women are vigilant about putting down the little black divider even if they have only gum and a People Magazine to purchase. We wouldn’t want my Wheat Thins fraternizing with her Big Red. And when I’m done putting all my stuff on the belt am I supposed to put a black divider down behind the last item? I feel like I’m drawing a line in the sand if I do, but I don’t want to go home with a stranger’s set of size 13 Dr. Scholl’s insoles.

I enjoy shopping on my own. I find it relaxing. And I’m starting to feel like a regular because a few checkers call me by name now.

And I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact I can’t reliably count past 12.

8 thoughts on “12 Items or Less

  1. I am in love with shopping! It is very relaxing to me as well. Chad doesn’t like it so it works out great for me. Not to mention, I am kind of a control freak when it comes to getting the items I need. I also end up remember things I need when I see them in the store. Is that remembering or impulsive? Thanks for the comments on my blog though! I appreciate them.


  2. My wife and I have kind of made grocery shopping a ritual at our house. Of course our kids can be left alone (hope they don’t burn the house down) and she and I make it a Starbucks, Shirley’s bagel breakfast, and then off to Ralphs. She stops me from buying too much and I get her to try new stuff. It all works out in the end.


  3. Shopping for food has always been my item as well. I would miss it.

    Jet-puff is always in the baking aisle, near the jello on the bottom shelf. not sure how that seems to work in store planning but it always seems to be in the same place. I think it is there to be at little kid level so they can go “oh, i want those!”


  4. LOL, so your guy! I run in the store because I forgot to buy 2 little lemons, run through to the express lane, and sure enough there you are with $200 worth of groceries on the belt. Next time I’m gonna get extra lemons and wedge them unser your wheels so that I can beat you to the checkout. Cute blog, i found it through Unraveling life’s mysteries. Will be back often.


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