The Neanderthal in the parking lot

(This is a really long saga…  I started writing it on Friday, about my Thursday night, and now it’s no longer current, but I’m not fixing my tenses, OK???)

So.  Last night was bad.  Seems like I’ve been having a lot of bad days lately!  It stems from being very busy;  I don’t do “busy” very well.  Four of five nights this week were taken up by baseball, the other nights for the last 10 days or so taken up by other things, too, and we were in desperate need of groceries.

When I go grocery shopping, I usually go by myself, after dinner.  But, that just hasn’t been possible.  We were running out of everything.  Bless my dear stepdad, who said, “I’ll come watch the boys if you take the girls with you to the grocery store.”  So, I fed Fiala, and took Audrey and her with me.  I thought, “I’ll put Audrey in Kid’s Corner.  She’ll like that.”  She has done that twice, and both times, she thought it was fabulous — toys and TV instead of the shopping cart.

I got paged twice within 30 minutes to take Audrey potty.  I thought, “She’s not digging Kid’s Corner.”  Sure enough, as I brought her back the second time, she clung and refused to go back in.  I still had half my shopping to do, and no room for her in the cart, but what else could I do?

So, she went with me.  Sort of.  I would briefly consult my list, grab an item from the shelf, chase after Audrey who had rounded the corner, fearless of losing Mommy, off to new adventures.  And, then, repeat that process seemingly endlessly.

It was getting later, and I thought, “I’d better get a rotisserie chicken to bring home for dinner.”  But, they didn’t have any of the large size ones out, just the small ones that are WAY too small for our family.

So, I asked at the deli counter if they had any more.  “We’ll have some more in ten minutes,” was the reply.  I finished my shopping in 15, and headed back to the deli.  No chickens in sight, I stood and waited, attempting to keep Audrey either holding my hand, or holding my pocket, and not biting the tomatoes in the adjacent produce department.  And…  Fiala started to cry.  So, I now have a crying baby on my shoulder, a 2yo running around the produce department, and I’m waiting for a chicken that should have already been done.  Five minutes later, it’s my turn at the deli counter, and I inquire about the chickens.

The guy pops his head in the back and says to me, “She’s bagging them up right now.  Five or ten more minutes.”  I waited five more minutes… No chicken.  I head off to the checkout line.

As I’m unloading my groceries, crying baby on my shoulder, trying to keep Audrey’s hands out of the candy, I tell the checkout guy, David, about my wait in the deli, and ask him if he can send someone in a few to check on the chickens.  He does, and the guy comes back with a small chicken.

“No.  The large size.  Colossal,”  David and I both tell him.

He departs, and comes back with a different flavor of small chicken.  “Is this the right flavor?”

“No, it’s not the flavor I’m concerned about, it’s the size.  I want the larger chicken.”  He leaves and comes back empty handed.

“They don’t have any large chickens.”

What??” I ask, incredulous, feeling like my head just may burst, “No large chickens?”  I can’t decide which I’m more upset about — that I’ll arrive home at 6:00 with nothing quick to feed my family for dinner, or the fact that I waited a good 25-30 minutes for those non-existent “ten minute” chickens.  Am I angry?  Or do I cry?  I can’t decide.  I take a small chicken, after all, figuring that it’ll feed the kids at least, and my hubby and I can eat later.

I go to the parking lot, and call my husband, who had taken a half-day PTO to go to the church and start installing some new recording equipment.  He was planning on coming home an hour or so later, but I ask him, with no real explanation, “Can you please come home now?”  He kind of waffled… then asked, “Can it wait 15 minutes?”

Now, that may have been a reasonable request on his part, but at that point, I didn’t feel like it was.  I felt like my emotional world was crumbling because of a hyperactive 2yo and no chicken, and he was telling me, “No, I won’t help you.”  So, I hung up.  And, I didn’t answer when he called back.  😦

After I arrived home and apologized to my stepdad for being a full hour later than I said I’d be, telling him I guess I just needed a reminder about why I usually grocery shop at 10:00 at night, I set the three boys to unpacking the groceries, and sat down to nurse Fiala.  I called Martin to apologize, and told him not to worry about coming home, that it was all under control now.  “Well, after you hung up on me, I decided to leave, and now I’m about three minutes away.”

So, I felt worse.

There I was, nursing my baby, crying.

I get dinner together quickly for the boys, and “just in case,” read the ingredients on the small chicken.  Barley malt flour was the third ingredient.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? Gluten.  I know for a fact that the colossal chicken has no gluten in it.  Grr…  So, I spent $7 on a chicken that only two of the six eaters in our family would be able to eat.  Myself and two of the kids absolutely can’t, due to celiac disease, and Martin is voluntarily gluten-avoidant, although, technically, he could have eaten it.

So, I got out some leftover pork roast and used it as the meat for the non-chicken-eaters.

AND… I still had more grocery shopping to do, at another store.

So, my hubby said to me, “Don’t you have a Starbucks giftcard with some money on it?  Why don’t you stop by Starbucks first, and get yourself a coffee, and sit down for 30 minutes or so?”

I did appreciate his suggestion…

I ate dinner, and headed out the door by myself to Starbucks and more groceries.

Well, actually, first I went back to the first grocery store, because I had checked my receipt and discovered I’d been overcharged a full $5.00.  I had decided that I was going to complain about the chicken/deli fiasco, but the two people who handled my refund were so very accommodating and friendly that I just couldn’t.

Then, I went to Starbucks.

I don’t know what it is, but that Starbucks location is always freezing.  Granted, this is the desert, but it’s March, and it was probably in the 50s outside, yet inside, the air conditioner was blowing full blast.  I think it was colder inside than out.

I ordered my drink, feeling like a Coffee Dork because the flavor I asked for, almond, had been discontinued, “A while ago,” said the barrista, with a faraway, slightly confused look on his face.  Well, I knew that the last couple of times I’d asked for almond, they didn’t have it, but I didn’t realize it had been totally discontinued, as I only make it to Starbucks about once a month, and only have my favorite frou-frou drink every other time or so…  So, it could have been discontinued a good 4-6 months ago, and I wouldn’t have known.

So, I now have my “grande caramel extra-hot cappuccino,” and I’m looking around the walk-in freezer, and see that almost every one of the spots are taken up.  And, I know that there are a whole bunch of smokers on the patio.  And… suddenly, I don’t really feel like sitting down.  Normally, I have no problem going places by myself;  I enjoy it, actually, the chance to read a bit, or write a bit, by myself.  But, there’s everyone with their laptops and cozy conversations, and there’s me, totally stressed out from my grocery experience, my fight with my hubby, and from me realizing I’d left my phone at home, so added to the top of everything else is the vague feeling of, “What if everything’s falling apart at home, and Martin is trying to reach me, and I’m lounging, oblivious, inside Starbucks, sipping my non-perfect drink?”  Plus, I  hadn’t showered in two days, had no make-up on,  PLUS I felt like a total Neanderthal because I needed to wax.

I swear I grow more facial hair than your average woman.  My brows had merged in the middle, and my upper lip was starting to look like Pedro.

Stressed out, hairy, not clean… I just didn’t feel like staying.

I sat in my truck, and thought, “I’ll just jot a few things down in my journal.”

I turned on the dome light, quickly scribbled several pages’ worth, then looked at the clock.  Unbelieveably, 30 minutes had, indeed, gone by.

I turned on the engine, turned on the radio to listen to the Suns blow yet another game, and headed off to the grocery store.


This is rather anti-climactic, but the next day, Friday, was much better.  I showered, waxed my face, and we headed out for a day of errands, the park, and a trip to our new library, and it was really a wonderful day.  🙂


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on March 14, 2009, in Babies, Motherhood, Random Stuff, Shopping, The Dear Hubby, The Kids, Whining, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Uh. You need a friend to go to Starbucks with. If I had survived Phoenix and still lived in the same house, I’d be 3 miles from you. I am so sorry you had a frustrating day. Mine are all in school. My middle child helps me shop. He’s the best. Next time take Ethan and Fiala and he can push the cart and load the groceries and all that stuff boys like to do to help mom. May your Saturday be blessed!!!!!

    • Lisa, I totally thought that when I was at Starbucks. “If Lisa still lived here, I bet I could call her spur-of-the-moment and she’d meet me here.” And, you know, my stepdad was so kind with his suggestion, but I almost nixed the idea, because I thought, “It would be easier with all of them than it would be with just the little girls.”

  2. You make me laugh and sigh as I realize my days are not so uniquely challenging! (And I too have that annoying facial hair thing! Got it from my mom..thank you very much!)

    Bless you bless you bless you for making me smile and feel normal!

  3. My poor, poor friend. You are too precious. I am sorry that you had a nightmare grocery shopping experience! And I would have taken that small chicken and beaned someone at the deli counter with it. Did they not see you standing there with two kids for 10 minutes? Good grief! And your Neanderthal comparison, while hilarious, I am sure it untrue. But I totally know what you mean – I hate being in public and feeling yicky. Here’s to a nice quiet shopping experience next time. 🙂

    • Lolo, you would have thrown the chicken, wouldn’t you???? Hahaha!! Don’t feel sorry for me, though… I’m already laughing about it, and it’s inspiring me to make better plans for next time!!

  4. Oh, Karen! You just about brought me to tears with the grocery experience. I could so relate. Not that the same thing has happened but close enough! That’s so frustrating when things go like that!!

    The Pedro comment literally made me laugh out loud!! That was hilarious!

    I’m so glad you’re next day was better and that you were able to un-neanderthal yourself. 😉 That does make a girl feel a little better doesn’t it. 🙂

    • MLBAH ~ I’m glad you got the Pedro comment!! I have seen Napoleon Dynamite about twenty times… not because I like it so much, but because my older two boys laugh so hard… they LOVE it! It’s a treasure-trove of quotable material, too. 😀

  5. glutenfree4goofs

    Oh man Karen, you brough tears to my eyes- and those who know me in person, not just online know- I don’t cry! 🙂 Lol! I know how you felt on so many levels. In some ways I think it’s just that time of year. I’ve got a saga on paper about to go “blog” about a very similar couple of days. Hubby and I had a fight were he said I was selfish for wanting him to stay home from a ministry responsibility and I said “Yes, yes I AM and that’s OK isn’t it? I’m your wife and I NEED you here!” Then I promptly felt like Job’s wife who said “curse God and die!” How could I beg him to stay home when his heart is right and God is using him-plus he is a great husband and dad. Well, you know… it went on from there. Hang in there. Isaiah 41:10

    • Jess, thanks! “It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry…” Hahaha! I went through the same thing w/ my hubby this past summer/fall. We had a LOT going on at our church, really an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and it was all I could do but not grouse about how much he was gone. 😦 Actually, I had a wee meltdown, and he made some changes, and I made some attitude adjustments, and it’s all OK now. Well, it WAS, until he got some new sound-recording equipment and software, and I have a feeling I’m going to be missing him again…

  6. Did you feel the hug that I just sent you???? My dear, we all have those days and respond in similar ways but God is still good. Hubby came home with a pair of shoes for me from a store that I don’t shop from and my facial expression showed my displeasure. He said they are comfortable – translation – not that cute. He felt he had done something great and I pooed on it, not cool. Thankfully, we have worked through it but only through His grace!!!

  7. I think that I have gone grocery shopping one time wihtout all the kids. My trick is that I break down the list and give the big kids part of it and I am done in half the time. OUt grocery store has carts where you can seat 2 children (like a regular cart not one of those great big honking things.) We are usually finished in half the time.

    But I can totally relate to that story and the hanging up on your husband. I have done that a few times and it really stresses the kids out as they start asking if we are getting a divorce. It doesn’t make me feel any better either.

    But the title made me think that you were going to run into some awful man in the parking lot, after all that junk in the store. So I nearly died laughing when I realized it was you that you were talking about. Sorry!

    I am glad Friday was better!

    • Christy ~ My grocery store doesn’t have the double seat carts!! 😦 They recently opened a Wal-Mart “Neighborhood Market” across the street from “my” grocery store. It’s really a large grocery store w/o the regular Wal-Mart stuff. Anyways, they have the two-seat carts, and I have thought a time or two about switching allegiances just because of the carts. I can’t, though. Learning a new grocery store is a pain in the heinie, and Wal-Mart doesn’t do double coupons. HOWEVER, I came up w/ a solution at another store the other day, and I don’t know why I never thought of it. Two carts!! Duh. One with the baby, the other with Audrey, one pushed by me, one pushed by one of the older boys. Worked fabulously. That’s what I’m going to do, next time in the grocery store.

      Yeah… I was the Neanderthal, hunched over her journal, in the parking lot, with the car light on. 😀 Hehehe!

  8. You crack me up. I can totally relate with both the grocery shopping fiasco and the Starbucks, neandrathal feeling. Amazing what a few errant hairs can do to our perception of ourselves, hey? Your reaction to your husband requesting 15 minutes is exactly what mine would have been, including the regret afterwards. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

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