Monday, February 28, 2011

NEW Adventures in the Life of Brenda #13: My Trip to Aldi's

I noticed I had this post drafted but never published. So I finished it for your reading enjoyment. So, yeah...enjoy :)

After 3 days of scraping by without milk, bread, fruit, eggs, noodles, meat, or (most devastating) MAC N CHEESE, I finally wrote up a grocery list and committed myself to getting groceries no matter the cost. We were in Chanhassen for the morning & early afternoon visiting with family so I decided that when Abigail woke from her nap we'd leave and I'd pick up groceries on the way home. Thus begins my tale of woe.

It can be a long 20 minute drive back to Minneapolis from Chanhassen, especially if your baby decides to serenade you with her rendition of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (which is what I might assume a cat on a hot tin roof would sound like). It is excruciatingly slow if your baby is screaming as you creep along the Crosstown at a snail's pace in the midst of an endless snake of brake lights. As I inched through Edina passing exit after exit, I began to plan out alternate routes to Cub - anything to get off the highway. I got off on Penn and while waiting at the stop light, I had an epiphany. I looked to my right and there, in stately majesty, was a Lund's. I sighed. I knew I would probably spend ten to twenty bucks more by stopping here than at Cub, but Lund's was HERE and Cub was not. So I turned toward the overpriced (but at least they bag your groceries for you) grocery store. As I was driving toward it, I saw that just south of it was an Aldi's. Hmm, I thought, I've been meaning to check out an Aldi's and see what all the fuss is about. And by fuss, I mean my Aunt Marie lecturing me in her kitchen while she waved a green pepper and a paring knife around in my face. It was also the store we were told to recommend to the refugees when I volunteered with World Relief. So I pulled into the Aldi's parking lot and took in my first impression of the place. It looked smaller than I was expecting, and didn't look very organized. But that makes sense; organization and flashy signs cost money. This is one way to keep the costs down. So I unbuckled Abi and lifted Lucie's carseat out of the carrier and we walked to the store.

Oh, the carts are outside. I'm going to have to wear gloves to push this thing! It's freezing out here! I thought to myself as I plopped Lucie's bucket seat into the front basket. I pulled on the handle only to rattle and disturb my entire row of carts. It was then that I realized that the carts were locked together, and the only way to unlock your cart was to pay 25 cents. This might not seem like a big deal, but for someone who pays for every purchase with plastic (yes, even to buy stamps!) it's hard to find actual money in my wallet. In fact I could find no moneys in my wallet.

I unlatched Lucie from the basket and herded Abi back to the car. Thoughts ran through my mind of just packing them up and leaving, but I was here, I should at least dig through the car for a quarter. Lo and behold we found one under the driver's seat. Who's judging my messy car now?! I inserted my quarter, unlocked my cart, and took my brood inside where we were at least flooded with a wave of warmth.

Now whenever a person visits a new grocery store, they must allow time for the search. Because you're not going to know where anything is. But at least you usually know what you're watching for. Noodles = green Creamette boxes, Mac N Cheese = blue Kraft boxes, etc, or if you're into the generics, you'll at least know your Market Pantry box of spaghetti will be next to the green Creamette box. However, I was unaware that Aldi's brands were ALL ALDI'S BRANDS. There were no green or blue boxes to guide me. I had to read every. Single. Label. And there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the layout of the store. Let's see, I'm looking for pork n beans. This aisle has mops, tortillas, hula hoops, canned soups, dish towels, and fruit juice in it. I guess it could be in this aisle...

Then it turned out that they didn't even have everything I needed! You mean I'm still going to have to go to Cub so I can get taco seasoning?! I was starting to get at tad peeved. I stood there in line, my peevishness in its infancy stages as I waited to check out. Then I noticed something. That lady just put all her food back in the cart after checking out. She's going to have a tough time getting all that food in and out of her car! I puzzled to myself. Then it hit me: there were no bags for the groceries.


Peevishness maturing...into adolescent stage...I searched for a logical explanation. Of course, well, it cut cost a company should charge the consumer for ones bags...but it seems

Then it was my turn to check out. I lowered my pride and paid for 6 bags for my groceries. I have failed to mention that aiding in the escalation of my emotions was my infant who was probably cooked to medium-rare in her car seat (mostly red with anger) and my toddler who closed up shop on obedience for the day somewhere in the hand soap and cookie aisle. Who could blame them?! I had just spent an hour in the grocery store moving at a snail's pace at their cranky "I WANT DINNER!" hour.

But Aldi's wasn't done. There was one last surprise that they were holding out on. One final straw for this camel's back.

"I'm sorry, ma'am," the man said as he handed me back my Visa. "We don't take credit cards."

I stared at the man blankly. In a moment, my mind screamed, "You don't take credit cards? Where are we?! The Turkish Bazaar? Even booths at the State Fair let me use a credit card! Heck! I paid for Girl Scout cookies with plastic! You mean to tell me that a chain grocery store in the 21st Century does NOT take credit cards?!?!?!" But the moment passed and my face remained blank as my little heart surrendered, waving a tiny white flag before the cashier. Of course they wouldn't accept credit cards. Of course they wouldn't.

I almost dragged my children dejectedly out of the grocery store sans groceries after an hour of shopping, but then - AHA! I remembered. By a miracle of God and because of his supreme mercy (no joke, I would have melted into a pile of goo if God had not shown His mercy on me in that moment) I reached into my diaper bag and what should I find but a dust-covered, cobweb-filled check book. Do I ever carry my checkbook with me? Never. How did it get in my diaper bag? I'll never know. But it was there nonetheless, almost glowing with an aura of victory.

"What's the date today, and what's my total?" I asked the cashier with a look that said who has the upper hand now?! I was thinking of my savings, knowing I would have spent between $60 and $70 for this same cart of groceries at Cub. Oh the savings! I could hardly wait to hear the total...

"It's the 9th of December today, and your total is $63.75," he stated back to me in monotone. Like a robot. A robot with the upper hand for infinity.

I rolled my bought & paid for groceries out to my car, stuffed my little screamers into their car seats, returned the cart, got my quarter back and promptly stuffed it under my seat where it belonged. I looked up at the glowing sign and made a solemn oath: I will never shop at Aldi's again. Shaking my angry fist, I added just for emphasis: NEVAH!