A store that doesn't judge me

I almost always do my grocery shopping at Shop N Kart. I don't have a particularly compelling reason for why, except for that my parents do their food shopping there as well.

I would guess that the store has fairly competitive prices, since the parking lot is always full, and the produce there looks at least as good as anywhere else in town. My problem is, I couldn't shop anywhere else if I wanted to.

Shop N Kart isn't like a second home, I don't really grocery shop often enough for that to be true, but it is like a second neighborhood. I know the aisles, I know where to find coffee, ice cream and rice cakes without having to ask staff, and I've figured out the crazy way a checker helps two different lines at the same time.

When I go to other grocery stores, I end up wandering up and down the aisles, feeling a little lost, and certainly confused about whether or not rice cakes belong in the "snack" section.

Rice cakes are not a snack; they are a food group unto themselves. I'm pretty sure that combined with coffee and ice cream you've got all your nutritional essentials for the day.

This is how Shop N Kart has got me as a customer and kept me, by keeping all the food in more or less the same place. I'm sure the store could throw half the town into chaos by one day by moving all the foods to new location within the store.

The other thing I love about Shop N Kart is the checkers, and for one simple fact: I don't feel like they're judging me. The Co-op is a lovely little store, the foods are beautiful and healthy and fresh, none of which are words that describe either me or my eating habits.

At the Co-op, I feel a little embarrassed about my basket of personal dietary staples alongside the shoppers whom I'm sure, along with buy whole grain bread, also do amazing things like grow their own veggies in the summer.

My mother would be proud if I just ate a vegetable, let alone grew one. The Shop N Kart checkers have long ago realized that I have the dietary habits of Templeton the rat from Charlotte's Web, and love and accept me regardless.

My only problem with Shop N Kart is that I hate to bag my own groceries. Not even hate, I loathe it. For some reason, and maybe because bagging is so odious that I block it out of my mind, I never remember that I'm going to have to bag up my purchases myself until I round the final bend before check-out.

At that moment I look down at my cart and seriously consider abandoning it and running to the parking lot to survive on take-out for another week. I even have a kitchen full of cloth grocery bags, and have never once remembered to bring them with me to the store.

I've heard that if I ask they'll call someone up to the front to bag for you. Since I've never seen this happen, I don't really want to be the first. Plus my son is already witness to a lot of my bad behaviors, including road rage and over-plucking my eyebrows, so at least I can demonstrate how a good citizen bags her own groceries for him.

If you're wondering how I've possibly survived this long with my lack of culinary skills and probable severe state of malnutrition, I'll tell you, the answer is easy. I just happen to show up at my parents' house, every single night, around dinner time. It's a good thing they love me, or take pity on me. I'll accept either one in exchange for food.

Zoe Abel always buys just enough food to fill one paper bag at a time. She may not be too lazy to bag her own groceries, but she is too lazy to make more than one trip in from the car. You can contact her at dailyzoe@gmail.com

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