Grocery Cart Swap

I used to write small snippets about my kids as a way to document the daily, stepping stones in their lives. I honed in on the day-to-day, relatable, parenting moments everyone could nod at and in some way, feel as though we are all in this journey together.

Then today, something strange happened. A pivot from writing about funny school projects to documenting my descent into madness.

Today, I fully switched grocery carts with someone at Zehrs and have no idea how or when it happened.

I’d like to say I have some memory of the moment I abandoned my cart but I can’t think of one. I did probably take a ridiculous amount of time to pinch, rub and eventually claw the plastic bag open to shove in four broccoli heads in the produce aisle. Was it in that second the switch was made?

I didn’t just swap similarly-crafted carts. I exchanged totally different carts. I started with a small cart because I only wanted a few items (knowing I would have to pile up the rear basket, lower undercarriage, shoulder carry and balance all of the excess items on the top of my head that were not on my list). I ended up with a full-size cart and just carried on my way. Note to drug smugglers—look for me at the airport.

Somewhere between the egg and dairy aisles, I had a lucid moment when I realized there was a loaf of bread from the in-store bakery in the top part of the cart and I was fairly certain I didn’t pick it up although, it looked pretty fresh. I didn’t even recall walking through that section of the store but here’s where it gets weird. I just kept going. I added a big bag of frozen mango, some yogurt, olive oil and then I noticed a container of baby spinach in the middle part of the cart. Huh. I mean, I like spinach and sometimes buy it but I don’t remember grabbing any on this run? I thought I went for the romaine?

I added some peanut butter, chickpeas, chocolate chips, why are there blueberries in here? I had to throw away our last container of blueberries so I quite purposefully chose strawberries, raspberries and mangoes today….none of which seem to be in this cart.

It took me THREE rogue items (bread, spinach, blueberries) to realize this wasn’t the cart I started with.

AND I was missing; bananas, avocados, mushrooms and a sleeve of tri-colour peppers. (The peppers would come back to bite me later).

My trip through the grocery store has now switched to a hunt for the person or people responsible for this gross injustice.

First, I look for a camera. If this a psychology experiment, I’ve been easily duped.

Then I look for someone who might be looking for me. Just a kid dancing dangerously too close to me while singing Jingle Bells. I haven’t quite worked out if he is part of the prank or if he has no personal sense of space. It turns out, it was the latter.

When I made it all the way back to the produce/bakery area, I saw a sad, mini-cart with a few items strewn about and realized the person with whom I’d switched carts figured it out a lot sooner than I did and just made a run for it.

And there it began, my unloading of the items I didn’t want and the collection of those I did. Then I headed to the check-out.

About half way through the unloading onto the conveyor belt, I picked up the sleeve of 3 tri-colour peppers and realized my cart-mate had removed the red pepper from the trifecta and left me with just the yellow and orange. This might be tough to explain. What if the teller asks, “Well, where did the red one go?” (cart thief only wanted red) “How did you not notice this before now?” (I’m barely hanging onto my sanity) “Surely it’s loose in your cart somewhere?” (Nope, but it might be in my other cart).

The store was pretty quiet so I suggested I could run over and grab another sleeve of peppers, one with all three. On my way there, the cashier shouted pretty loudly, “Grab another avocado too! I dropped one of yours in my hole!”

That sounds about right.

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