On spare change and grocery stores

I’ve been to the grocery store three times in a matter of four days. Partly because I’m not organized enough to make a list of the items I actually need. But mostly because I don’t carry cash.

The grocery stores in Canada require a deposit in order to get a grocery cart. Like Aldi in the U.S. (Or the grocery stores in Germany.) To get a cart at Safeway, here, you need a quarter to slide into the ordained slot. To get one at the Superstore, you need a dollar. Aka, a loonie.

No change, no cart. A consequence I’ve suffered more times than I care to remember.

My goal is to keep one of each in the car at all times. But sometimes that just doesn’t happen, for reasons that aren’t really worth going into. Except then I find myself in need of going to the grocery store; without any spare change (or cash to turn into spare change).

Which is why I was at the aforementioned Superstore on Sunday, carrying all of my groceries by hand – through the store and out to the car. By the time I got to the car, my arms were literally shaking from the exertion. I’d purchased all I could carry and we still had nothing to make for dinner. Which is why I had to go to Safeway on Tuesday. With all three kids.

I’d found a lone quarter lying in the office which meant I could only go to Safeway, not the Superstore. And, since the professor had gone to the university, I had to take all three kids. As I was struggling to push a cart through a parking lot covered in snow and sludge, my only thought was ‘I hate going to the grocery store with my kids.’

Which is why I abandoned the cart next to my parked car. Instead of returning it and getting my quarter back. And why I told the professor that night the reason we couldn’t have a fourth child (really the lesser of the reasons) was because I couldn’t take four kids to the grocery store. Taking three along was already more than I could handle.

But I’d forgotten to buy milk and garlic.

Which is why I had to go to the grocery store on Wednesday. With all three kids.

And, since I’d used up my lone quarter the day before, I had to walk through the grocery store carrying an infant in a carseat, while trying to coax the Gort into carrying the basket with groceries.

‘I can’t carry the milk,’ he informed me. So in addition to carrying the carseat with my right hand, and corralling les enfants, I also had to carry a gallon jug of milk with my left hand. All while trying to soothe the wailing Hen who had fallen down in the produce section.

In order to elicit a modicum of co-operation from boy child one and two, I’d agreed to purchase ‘Spiderman’ fruit snacks. Cleverly displayed at the store entrance. Which had set off a violent brotherly argument over who got to carry the box of snacks throughout the store.

Me, me. Let it be me. I thought about saying.

After using my ‘firm’ voice through clenched teeth, the tug-of-war ceased and we were able to procure the remaining items, pay and depart.

Seeing as I had to carry the groceries and the carseat, I instructed the Hen to hold his brother’s hand. Which is a 50-50 proposition at the best of times. Most times he angrily refuses to even touch his brother’s hand. Luckily, today, the ‘fruit’ snack compelled him to cooperate.

There we were, an ungainly, overloaded mother duck and her two ducklings coming out of the grocery store, waiting for passing cars to take notice (i.e. stop) so that we could cross the parking lot to our car. A truck stopped to let us cross, the driver visibly chuckling at the sight before him, which now included a two year old holding out his right hand (the stop motion) commanding the already stationary monster truck to halt.

The same two year old, who was so focused on ordering the truck to stop, that he didn’t watch where he was going and fell down again. This time in the snow. The only sympathy I could offer was the verbal promise of imminent waxy fruit snacks.

With the boys secured in their carseats, I opened the small bags of snacks and parceled them out. The smell of fake fruit candies soon filled the air and we continued on our way.

‘Mom, do you want a bag of fruit snacks?’ my oldest kindly offered.

‘Sure,’ I replied, because I was touched by his generosity. Not because I like to eat fruit snacks.

‘When we get home, you can have a bag,’ he informed me. ‘But when you eat them, you have to look this way’ he demonstrated; his face purposely pointed away from the bag.

‘Why?’ I asked perplexed by his stipulation.

‘Because some of the shapes are scary.’

9 thoughts on “On spare change and grocery stores

  1. 1) I’ve mentioned before that my house can be used as a convenient drop off for some of those aforementioned ducks.

    2) If you forget your quarter at safeway just go to the customer service desk and they will use their fancy cart keys and get one for you or even give you a quarter.

    3) A shudder to mention it but they do have little kid carts at safeway as well and I know your kids use them at Sunterra so maybe in emergencies? Of course that sets the precedent.

  2. Kim – You have changed my life. I had no idea you could get a cart ‘for free’. SIGH. And I haven’t seen those ‘baby’ carts yet. But maybe it’s easier to get the 2 ducklings to WALK through the store rather than push a cart through the store 🙂

  3. …. not only can you get a cart for free but at Safeway they ask to take your groceries out for you. At Coop, they don’t ask – they just take them to your van, I mean car and your just follow. Also – they have a kiddie corral… you sign in the boys, they play, colour, etc while being supervised by a nice Coop person and you pick them up on the way out (and they get a little prize). The only way it could be more perfect is if Coop had a way to get your latte fix, like Safeway.

  4. Alternatively, I could get my act together….carry spare change at all times and only do my shopping on the weekends, alone. But sheesh, I’m already doing ten push-ups a day, how much more can I add to my plate?!

  5. Well, I’m still not okay with other people picking out my fruit. But I would pay someone to drop off a gallon of milk at the house now and again!

  6. I loved reading this, not because I take joy in other peoples sufferings, but because I can relate! I have now, in the past week drove to the store sat in the parking lot and drove home…I just did not have the energy or patience to do it. Your an amazing woman!! 3 boys…not sure I could do it!!

    1. I love that a woman with FIVE children tells me I’m amazing. Only 3/5 amazing by your standards. But I’m really more ridiculous than amazing…I’m 35 and never carry change. I don’t make lists…..but thanks for sharing the bit about the parking lot. It brought a smile to my face.


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