Grocery cart etiquette

I have a confession to make.  I have grocery cart rage.  There.  I’ve admitted it. It starts when I first step into the store and try to obtain a cart by separating it from the chain of carts behind it. Invariably the cart I am wrestling with insists on dragging along the one behind it. After struggling for a minute, I give up,  leave it, and try the first cart in the next line.  Eventually I manage to disengage a cart and embark on my shopping only to find that this cart has a wobbly wheel and sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard when pushed.  Several minutes and a wrenched back later, I procure my cart.  This is when the real grocery cart rage kicks up several notches.  I now have to maneuver said cart around a store full of nig-nogs with no clue about grocery cart etiquette.

The first rule of etiquette is that all grocery carts should go the same way down the aisles.  None of this two-way business.  And the correct way to go is the way I am going.  It only makes sense.  You go from north to south down aisle one and south to north down aisle two and so on.  No skipping aisles and trying to sneak down the next one going the wrong way.  This is because when two-way grocery cart traffic is allowed, you can always guarantee that shopper A going south and shopper B going north will stop directly next to each other in order to spend five minutes searching the shelves on opposite sides, totally oblivious to the fact they are blocking the aisle.  It’s not like one of them thinks, “Oh, maybe if I had the sense to move my cart three feet past the other person’s cart, which is going the WRONG way, other shoppers could get through.”  Nope, the shoppers barricaded behind them simply have to wait until the clueless find what they’re looking for and move on.

The second rule is no one under the age of twenty-five should be allowed to drive the grocery cart. Ever! But there are always the two girlfriends who bring their six assorted children with them.  Why one of them doesn’t stay home with the kids and let the other go shopping alone in peace is beyond me.  Usually their carts are manned by the two oldest children—no more than eight years old—who run into things, block the aisles, and do wheelies in the middle of the store. There is typically a screaming toddler in the seat who is trying to climb out and a slightly older child climbing up the sides or the back of the cart while it is in motion.  I’ve even seen small children lying on the rack on the bottom of the cart. The mothers, of course, are completely unaware of their children’s antics because their noses are buried in their cell phones texting each other so they don’t have to actually talk to each other.  Meanwhile, in an effort to avoid grocery cart demolition derby, I have to weave and zig-zag down the aisles.  Otherwise I risk being rammed by pint-sized grocery cart drivers, or accidently running over a small child who has fallen from the cart into my path.  As I hastily snatch items from the shelf, I attempt to maneuver my cart through a temporarily open gap between the two children’s carts before the gap closes with both carts crashing into me on both sides.

Then there are the whole families who find it necessary to shop together.  Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Great Aunt Sadie, and a sullen teenaged boy are all bonding in the produce section and moseying along at the pace of an ancient, arthritic snail.  If I am lucky enough to bypass them there, where there is more room, I am certain to meet up with them in the toilet paper aisle. And somehow, even though I have scurried to get ahead of them, suddenly there they are right in front of me, lined up shoulder to shoulder across the aisle like the defense line of the Green Bay Packers.  There ain’t no gettin’ through!   No amount of polite coughing or “excuse me’s” will induce any of them to move out of the way, as they are in their own little zone and completely unaware of anyone else around them.  So far I have resisted the urge to “accidentally” let my cart make contact with one of their derrieres to try to prod them out of the way.  I have even tried backing out of the aisle and moving to another one, hoping I don’t forget to go back and pick up my toilet paper. But everywhere I go, they miraculously appear in front of me, as if their GPS is honed on me.  Frankly, it’s a little creepy.

Finally, let me explain that grocery aisles are like side streets.  You need to look both ways before pulling out.  Those on the main thoroughfare have the right-of-way.  After I’ve finally made it through the gauntlet of clueless shoppers and loaded my cart with 100 pounds of dog food, 50 pounds of cat litter, 2 cases of water, half a dozen large diet coke bottles and all my other necessities, it’s like I’m driving a two-ton semi.  It’s hard to start, stop, maneuver, and turn.  Once I get my momentum going, I need to keep moving.  So as I’m trucking down the home stretch toward the check out, my cart loaded so high I can’t see what’s in front of me, some nig-nog with a near empty basket will inevitably dart out of the end of an aisle without looking, causing me to slam on the imaginary brakes of my cart to avoid a collision.

I’m trying to work on my grocery cart rage.  I really am.  And I’m pretty sure I could conquer it if only the other shoppers would get a clue and get out of my way!






All Aglow

You don’t want to be the patient whose X-rays trigger the response of “Wow!  Look at that!” from your medical team.  Trust me.  This is not a good thing.  Thus, I was sent for an MRI of my pitiful, deformed back.  An MRI is a painless procedure where you lie perfectly still inside a claustrophobic machine while it makes all kinds of scary noises as it blasts your body with ominous radioactive waves.  Fortunately, I am not claustrophobic, and the very nice technician tucked me in comfortably with blankets, pillows, and earplugs before sliding me inside the small tube and stepping out of harm’s way.  Of course knowing that I couldn’t move for the better part of an hour made every part of my body itch.  “Don’t think about itching,” I told myself, as the irritating sensation immediately erupted on the side of my nose.

Since I had to lie in the machine for the better part of an hour, I had to do something to pass the time, since I couldn’t think about scratching itches.  If one blocks out the fact that your body is being bombarded with all kinds of malevolent radioactive waves which may fry your insides and turn you into Spider Man or the Incredible Hulk (I’m not really sure which superhero was transformed by radiation, as I’m not well versed in superhero trivia), having an MRI is not really such a bad experience.  So, in order to pass the time, I tried to amuse myself by characterizing the various sounds the machine emitted.  It’s actually quite amazing how many different noises there are in the course of an MRI exam, and again, if you try not to think about which ones are discharging which lethal rays, it’s rather fun to try to describe them.  (Sad what some people will do for blog material, right?)

The first sound was what I labeled “the jackhammer.”  This sounds exactly like what you would imagine.  Conjure up the image of a muscle man in a hard hat busting up concrete, and this is how it sounds—a continuous rat-a-tat noise.  The jackhammer was probably the loudest.  Next there were individual knocking sounds, like someone was actually banging on a door (or a very large, expensive medical devise.)  With this noise, I wondered if something was wrong with the machine and someone was actually hitting or kicking it to make it work, as I’ve been known to do to recalcitrant equipment.  After the knocking came a continuous hum which sounded like someone playing the same low note on a bass guitar.  It bugged me that I couldn’t identify the note on the musical scale.  (I’m probably the only person on the planet who would fret over this.)  A few minutes into the hum, the base guitar added another note exactly one octave higher.  This escalated to include a physical vibration along with the hum, reminiscent of the jolt you receive when the nig-nog in the car next to you has his stereo blasting with his windows open.  All you hear is the “thump thump” of the loud bass while the molecules of your insides are being rearranged.  When that series was finished, there was a new sound I called backup beepers. This was followed by what I described as the “spin cycle of the washing machine.”  Then the noises started over again, not necessarily in the same sequence.  Between the various sounds were intervals of relative quiet with an underlying “swooshing” noise like a doppler.

I may have accidentally missed some sounds, as somewhere along the line I fell asleep.  Go figure.  My husband’s snoring runs me out of the bedroom, but I can sleep through an MRI.  Anyway, I came through the procedure rested and refreshed after my required hour of lying still.  Come to think of it, that’s the last time I can remember actually lying still for an hour in the middle of the day. The technician said I did great, although I didn’t actually “do” anything, so I felt a little guilty being praised for taking a nap.  Still, I didn’t freak out and make her chase me down the hall, either, so I guess maybe some praise was warranted.

Hopefully, should you find yourself facing an MRI,  I’ve given you some ideas of ways to pass the time—besides dwelling on the fact that you are encased in a small, confined tube with barely enough room for your chest to rise during normal respirations, and itching everywhere.  No need to thank me.  The warm radioactive glow in my body is thanks enough.




Just have a seat and fill out these 50 forms

I’m getting to that age where my social life revolves around my doctors’ visits.  I have another appointment next week at a clinic where I have been seen twice before in the past, but somehow they have no record of my visits.  So I have to arrive a half hour early to fill out paperwork again.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought anybody actually LOOKED at the paperwork (other than proof of insurance, which always gets first priority), but I seriously have my doubts about the rest.

For example, why do they hand you a clipboard with fifty forms to fill out and on ALL of them you have to put your address?  Couldn’t the address just be transferred over from the first form?  After all, it doesn’t change between form one and form forty-nine.  And your birthdate.  THAT doesn’t change either, unless of course you are so embarrassed at writing that incredibly ancient year over and over again that you decide to fudge a little toward the end.  Sex could possibly change depending on whether the patient feels like a female on forms one through thirty, then feels more like a male from thirty-one on.  In this day and age, that’s perfectly acceptable, although it could make for difficulties at the OB/GYN appointment.  But what does my grandmother’s maiden name have to do with my back pain?  Or  my marital status?  (Okay, for those of you with your mind in the gutter, I’ll have you know we took the trapeze down a long time ago.)

Then there are all these questions about your medical history.  Now being a medical professional, I understand the importance of medical history, but is it really relevant that I had pink eye in 1982?  Or motion sickness in a small airplane ten years ago?  There are pages and pages of every conceivable condition ranging from near-sightedness to scurvy.  Family history is, of course, pertinent.  But does my third cousin’s twice removed gall bladder surgery really apply all that much to my situation?  (Twice removed cousin, not twice removed gallbladder.) By the time I finish up with form fifty, I need to add “writer’s cramp” to the list.

As I finally turn in all the paper work and make it back to an exam room, I can tell nobody looked at any of the forms I so painstakingly filled out because the first question from the health provider is “What are we seeing you for today?”  I am always tempted to reply in a snarky tone that if the provider had taken two minutes to look at my paperwork, he would KNOW what I was there for, as the problem was listed on at least twenty-eight forms.  But of course I am much too polite to say that.  Plus starting off the visit with a snarky tone might get the PA (as you never see an actual DOCTOR until visit nineteen) mad at me, which I really don’t want to do, as he might put me through unnecessary painful and expensive tests.  So I nicely answer the question, and from the direction the rest of the exam takes, I can tell he is not the least bit interested in my case of pinkeye in 1982. In order to be thorough, I kind of want to bring the pinkeye to his attention, but I don’t want to be labeled as a high maintenance patient who can’t keep her mind on relevant issues.

I am already dreading filling out those forms.  However, I’m thinking I might have a little fun, as well as testing the staff to see if they actually DO look at them.  I believe on form thirty-six, under “other” condition, I’m going to write in Ebola.  Or Leprosy.  Or Bubonic Plague.  Or perhaps “all of the above.”  Hee hee!



Merry Christmas

Last night I made a Christmas cake.  In August.  I know what you’re thinking – either I’m way ahead or way behind.  Well, as usual, I’m way behind.  Way, way behind.  It seems I bought a boxed mix for a Christmas cake because it was on sale for twenty-five cents at the commissary after Christmas.  Christmas of 2016, that is.  It has been taking up space in my freezer for quite a while now.  Each time I think about making it, I pull out the box, read the directions, and say, “Nah, that’s too much trouble.”  So, last night, I decided enough was enough.  I was making that blasted cake!

The reason it was too much trouble to make the cake is because it is a layer cake, with one layer tinted green and one layer tinted red.  First of all, I don’t DO layer cakes – not when I have a perfectly good 13 X 9 baking dish that accommodates both layers with a minimum of work and the cake is just as tasty.  My few attempts with layer cakes over the years have pretty much been disasters.  They never look like the beautiful pictures on the boxes.  Either the top cracks, leaving a big hole in the center of the cake, or the crumbs (or a good chunk of the cake) sticks to the frosting.  Or someone’s mouth (usually mine) gets impaled on the toothpicks I insert to hold the layers together.   However, as the Christmas cake mix was divided into one red pack and one green pack, it appeared layers were necessary.  Mixing the two colors together to make a sheet cake might create a rather unappetizing color which no one would care to eat.

The other reason it was too much trouble was that the red and green layers had to be prepared separately, so it was basically making two cakes.  Each needed 4 tablespoons of butter, 2 eggs, and 1/3 cup of water.  Then they each needed to be mixed with the beater separately for two minutes.   So I put the individual 4 tablespoons of butter into my two microwaves – one on the counter and one above the stove – to soften, while I went about mixing up the rest of the ingredients in two separate bowls.  (I won’t go into WHY I need two microwaves.  Just suffice it to say that the way I cook, I need both of them.)  The two microwaves dinged within seconds of each other, which sets my teeth on edge because one microwave dings a B-flat on the musical scale, while the other dings a B natural.  I suppose I’m one of the few weird people who would notice that.  Anyway, as I was busy cracking eggs, I didn’t get the butter out right away, which upset my microwaves which continued to “remind” me every ten seconds until I removed the butter.  If there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s a nagging appliance.  I’m always tempted to yell, ” I KNOW!  I KNOW!  Leave me alone, already!”  Actually, truth be told, sometimes I do yell back.

So, finally the pans went into the oven, at which point my husband decided to make biscuits for dinner.  This meant an oven rack had to be lowered over my cake pans, which was okay until the cake started to rise, sticking to the upper rack.  Let’s just say the results weren’t pretty.  Not to worry, I could cover up the scraped tops with icing.   This is when I realized that canned frosting doesn’t cover layer cakes very generously.  In fact, the coverage was rather skimpy.  That’s okay, even if the cake wasn’t Betty Crocker perfect, it tasted just fine.

And the best part is not only did I finally get that box of cake mix out of my freezer, but I  didn’t waste that twenty-five cents I paid for it.




How do I love thee?

Did you know that August is National Romance Awareness Month?  There was a big article in last Sunday’s paper about tapping into your romantic side with help from an expert.  Included in this article were 8 tips to be sure romance lasts a lifetime.  I ran these by my husband to be sure he was being romantic enough.  Here are his responses:

Me:  Do you make regular deposits into my emotional bank account?

Him:  Is this one of those “touch-feely” things?

Me:  Yes.  Just answer the question.

Him:  Say it again.

Me:   Do you make regular deposits into my emotional bank account?

Him:  (Shaking head. Looking clueless).  We communicate.

Me:  Do you recognize and accept bids for connection and respond to them?

Him: Huh?

Me:  Do you know how to practice self-soothing and try to remain calm during difficult discussions?

Him:  (Deer in the headlights look).

Me:  Do you create an environment that encourages honest conversations about my hopes, dreams, aspirations, and goals?  And do you take it one step further and create shared meaning in our relationship by building a sense of purpose?

Him:  This is too deep for my shallow mind.

Me:  Do you focus on having frequent thoughts and acts that cherish my positive qualities and minimize your focus on my negative faults and avoid negative comparisons?

Him:  When you ask me questions like that I’m thinking about when the car needs the oil changed next.

Unfortunately,  he then ramped up into “preacher” mode about how we both made gut-level decisions to be committed to our love and we built on that through daily reinforcement by words and actions.  When he gets into “preacher” mode, he can go on for hours.  I did the only romantic thing I could think of.  I pretended to listen while secretly reading “Dr. Abby.”


Wash Those Hands!

Is there anyone else out there besides me who is unable to work those automatic towel dispensers in public restrooms?  You know, the one where you wave your hand in front of it and the paper towels magically roll out.  Maybe I’m the only one who can’t seem to get them to work.   I swore both of them in the restroom at the Fort Walton airport were broken, as I stood there with wet hands which were now dripping down my arms in an attempt to retrieve a paper towel.

I waved my right hand across the sensor as shown on the front of the machine.  Nothing.  I waved my left hand across the sensor.  Nothing.  I waved my right hand under the machine.  Nothing.  Same with my left hand.  I did jazz hands, mime hands.  Nothing.  Thankfully nobody else was in the restroom observing my bizarre dance maneuvers to procure a blasted paper towel.  I moved over to the other machine.  Same routine.  Nothing.  “Hmm,” I said to myself.  “They must both be broken.”  (FYI, I talk to myself a lot.  But seeing as I’m often the only one who listens to me, I figure it’s okay.  At least I can have an intelligent conversation.)  By now, I had mostly dripped dry, so I gave up.

Shortly before our plane boarded (as we had gotten there early in order to get through the two hour security process), I decided I should “go” once more, since I hate having to use those claustrophobic little airplane restrooms.  BTW, don’t get me started on airport security.  That’s fodder for another blog.  Anyway, I digress.  Back to the restroom towel dispensers.  I noted this time that apparently other women were capable of getting the things to work.  “Hmm,” I said to myself.  “Apparently the dispensers are NOT broken.”  Until I tried to use them again.  Nothing.

I might add, the same thing often happens to me with the automatic faucets.  I wave my hands underneath.  No water.  I move to the next sink.  Same thing.  However, the faucet in the sink next to me comes on.  What the heck?  It’s particularly aggravating when I manage to get the first squirt of water, soap my hands up thoroughly, and then I am unable to get the water to come on again.  Or I get two seconds of water, which fails to rinse off the soap.   I can’t even wipe off the soap as I can’t get a paper towel!

I’m really not that stupid!  Honest!  (However, as nine out of ten people don’t consider themselves stupid, maybe I’m missing something.)  But I choose to believe it’s either something wrong with the aura my hands are putting out (or failing to put out), or it’s a conspiracy because I voted for Trump.  Anyway, from now on, I’m sticking with hand sanitizer.   At least I can usually get it out of the bottle.

Now boarding

My family and I just returned from a week’s vacation in Tuscon, which I’m sure you don’t really want to read about, unless you care to view all 1283 pictures of airplanes that my husband took at the Pima Air and Space Museum.  (Yeah, I really don’t want to look at them, either.  I had to see the real things once already in the 105 degree sun).  However, that won’t keep me from blogging about this trip in the next few weeks!

Of course to get to Tuscon, we flew, rather than spend half the vacation driving.  Now I’ve always gotten the message there is a distinction between first class passengers and the rest of us peons.  But it seems the airlines are adding more and more “classes” of passengers lately.  There used to be 3 zones.  Now there are 6-9.  We are always at or very near the bottom zone for some reason – mostly because we refuse to pay an additional fifty bucks apiece to get into a higher zone.

As we sat in the boarding area waiting for our zone to be called, I listened to the other zones with their unique “betterness” than us being called.  It went something like this:

“All Priority Club Platinum Richer than Trump  first class passengers may pre-board now through the priority lane.  Welcome aboard to our very esteemed guests and thank you for choosing us instead of your private jet.”  Now mind you, the priority line is simply a lane to the left of a divider that separates the three foot distance from the waiting area to the agent who scans the ticket.  In fact, at the end of the divider, the passengers have to cross into a common area to get to the agent.

“Next all Priority Club Gold Elite Members on the first class passenger A-list are welcome to pre-board through the priority lane, where champagne and caviar will be served shortly to both you and the Priority Club Platinum Richer than Trump guests, just as soon as you have made yourselves comfortable.  Welcome aboard.”

After a moment, another announcement is made.  “All Priority Club first class beautiful A-list people are now welcome to board through the priority lane.  Welcome aboard, honored guests.”

“All First Class, non-beautiful people B-list passengers are now welcome to board through the priority lane.   A flight attendant will bring you and the Priority Club first class beautiful A-list people an assortment of refreshments while you wait for the common people to board.”

As the last of the eight first class passengers make their way down the jet way, the agent announces, “We will now begin boarding in zones through the main lane.”  She meanders to the divider, now opening the lane on the right.  “We will begin boarding with zone 4.  Welcome aboard, but don’t forget you are NOT permitted to use the restrooms in first class.”

While the cattle stampede for zone 4 is squeezing through their single file chute, she announces,  flatly, “Zone 5.”  There is massive congestion at this point, but my family and I wait patiently at the very back of the crowd.

At last it is our turn.  “The rest of you riff raff from zone 6 can go ahead now,” she says in a disgusted tone.  “Just don’t touch or look at any of the first class passengers as you go by.  And don’t smack them in the head with your carry-on baggage.  Wait until you get into the main cabin to do that.”

“I’m going through the priority gate,” I tell my husband.  I’ve always been a little defiant.

“Go ahead,” he says.

So I duck under the divider, walk the three feet down the priority lane and meet up with him and my son in the open area.  Nobody says anything to me.  Hah!  But then, there are only a handful of people left.

As we are heading down the jet way, I hear, “Zone 7 cheap pond sucking bottom scum feeders.  MOVE IT SLIME BALLS!”

We finally make it on board, taking note the first class passengers are eyeing us with open disdain, even though we DID shower and use our deodorant.  “Where is our row?” I ask my husband.

“Twenty-nine,” he says.

“There are only thirty rows in the whole airplane.  Where does zone 7 sit?  On the tail?”

“Zone 7 is the free-for-all group,” he explains, meaning they are stuck wherever they can find an empty seat, usually in the middle between two large, smelly sumo-wrestler types.

“Oh.” I wedge myself into the tight seat and attempt to shove my carry-on under the seat in front.  As the circulation slowly cuts off to my lower extremities, a child kicks the seat behind me and a baby starts to wail in the seat across the aisle.  A woman bangs me in the head with her massive purse as she tries to cram her carry-on into an overhead bin.  I pray she doesn’t drop her luggage on my head as she shoves her stomach into my face. The kid behind me is now playing with the tray on the back of my seat.  Up, down, up down, WHAM, down.  I start praying the woman whose stomach is still in my face, who is still struggling with her luggage drops it on the kid behind me.   Okay, not really.   There are already fifteen people lined up in the aisle waiting to use one of the two restrooms reserved for the 264 non-elite passengers.

It doesn’t matter though.  We’re all going to the same place – from the Priority Club Platinum Richer than Trump  first class passengers to us mere peons. And at least my family is just riff raff and not cheap pond sucking bottom scum feeders.  I find myself feeling rather smug to be superior to SOMEONE.