I had a plan for the holiday season: go to the grocery store early. Early meaning not on Christmas Eve, but the day before that, December 23rd.
And a good plan it was, too. So good that me and 10,000 of my closest friends all showed up at the grocery store at the same time. The parking lot was the first clue, when I had to park on a row with a letter designation that hardly any words start with.
I put on my jacket and trekked my way to the entrance, where I managed to snag a miniature cart. I had my list, so I was prepared. Judging from the exiting carts that were piled as high as the Grinch’s loaded-up sleigh, I wasn’t sure there would be any morsel left inside for a Whoville mouse, much less me.
At first, I made pretty good progress. But then I made a tactical error: I went down the baking aisle. I didn’t mean to, no! I just got caught up in the flow and when I looked up, I was encircled by people with fire in their eyes, determined on getting their hands on that last container of baking soda.
There I was, in the middle of the aisle, with nobody moving. The metal carts surrounded me, looking more and more like jail cell bars. The shelves started to close in on me. A cloud of claustrophia was descending from the grocery store ceiling, targeting me. It was hard for me to breathe.
There must be a way out, there must be. Just at that moment, an employee in a Santa hat squeezed by me, on his way to point out an item for another customer. Gripping the cart’s handlebar, I made my move. I got behind the Santa hat employee and followed him. The sea of carts parted to make way for him to pass. I kept my head down and my cart millimeters behind him, mirroring his every move as if we were a school of (two) fish, so intent was I on making my escape from the madness of the baking aisle.
We broke through! Freedom at the cross-aisle! Rays of sun beamed down through the sunlights (the store’s attempt on saving electricity). I was safe, if only for the moment.
I looked back down the baking aisle. It looked crowded, yes, but not dangerous. But I knew better. I knew that the center of that aisle was like an eddy, swirling the unsuspecting shopper around and around until the items that were on other aisles disappeared from their shopping list. They’d arrive at home with only pecan pieces, cupcake sprinkles, cayenne pepper and whole wheat flour.
Grocery shopping on December 23rd? I mean, what was I thinking?!