The one good thing about this current model of capitalism, you reflect, is the 24-hour grocery. Sure, the CVS just up the street has the essentials, but that’s where you go when you need a forty or some square shaped wine. As it is, you’ve settled on Kroger for its proximity and, even more importantly, the fuel points. You’ve been able to gas your car and yourself pretty damn well since they added on the liquor shop to the main structure. Points is points, be they for celery or beer. It’s usually beer. Okay, so maybe you haven’t purchased celery in six years since the last time you attempted (and summarily burned) that risotto for your ex’s birthday, but dammit, you just don’t need to floss your teeth while you chew on what is basically weirdly-flavoured bitter crunch water.
At this time of night, the only cars that are around in the sprawl of a parking lot are employees or night owls. Thankfully, they’ve bothered plowing since the snow came in, and you get a not-too-treacherous spot relatively close to the pharmacy entrance. This would have been great luck for you, if you’d only remembered that the pharmacy door stays locked after ten, and you are forced to walk the length of the plate glassed storefront down to the grocery entrance. You grab one of the medium, two-tiered numbers and squeaky-wheel it through the automatic doors. Thankfully at this time of night, there aren’t any decrepit greeters for you to mumble a hello while avoiding any meaningful eye-contact. You know they’re just there to discourage shoplifters and give the elderly and disabled something to do for a bit of income, but damn. You need conversation while grocery shopping like you need a stalker, and it looks like you’ve already filled that goddamned dance card.
With that fresh on your mind, you dodge the massive pink and red display of wilting factory farm flowers and inflated to bursting half-hearted balloons to hit up the produce section. Celery might not be on the menu, but you need limes at least, otherwise those vodka tonics would just be this side of sad. And maybe some apples. But at least you’ll fight off scurvy for another week. The only apples on sale, sadly, are the Golden Delicious, but beggars can’t be choosers, and you resign yourself to a mealy, too-sweet fate. Fruit bagged and in cart, you meander through the rest of the vegetable matter, as though you had a mind to get anything more than a dusty sack of potatoes and a hand of bananas. Maybe some onions. Maybe some bell peppers. The greens are 4 for 4. You might make something nutritious-adjacent this week after all.
You dodge an absent-minded employee dragging an overloaded pallet jack on his way to restock the organic, grain-fed, hand-masturbated, holier-than-thou milk and milk-like substances (you’re not sure how they jack off the soy and almonds [tiny, tiny hands?]) and head over to the discount day-old (week-old, let’s be honest) bread stand and toss a few bags of marked-down “manager’s special” round hearth bread and move on past the sullen tank of banded lobsters (you give a wave, you’re not a monster) and completely clock out. You’re on auto-pilot as you grab your milk, your O.J., your personal lubricant (thank Satan for self-checkout to keep the knowing eyes at bay). You’re damn near to the check-out counter when a familiar cramp hits you in the side and you round to go back for pads. And a few of those Easter (holidays come a month ahead of time in retail, don’t they?) Reese’s peanut butter eggs. 4 for 2 is a deal-maker for sure.
Scan. Bag. Scan. Bag. Scan. Bag. Swipe Card. Enter Pin. Take Receipt. “Thank you for shopping at Kroger”. You lug the handfuls of beige and blue bags out through the gathering snow drifts to your car and load up the passenger seat and the little box you keep there for just such occasions. You’re in a decent enough mood to even bother buckling them in, reaffirming for yourself that you desperately need to get out more. You look through the plate glass into the store as you slide into the driver’s seat and see the Valentine display bobbing forlornly in the harsh fluorescence. That is enough to remind yourself that you could do with shutting yourself well-up in your house for the next, say, month, until you forget about the bizarre little woman and her fat cunt. You turn the ignition, look over your shoulder, and back out over the icy berm that the plowman made this morning. It has been an eventful night, and you hope fervently that you’re done living in interesting times.
You put the car into drive and head home.