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At the grocery store, why are there always five scanners and zero baggers? I’d rather wait a little longer in line, even if I need to play defense in the candy zone and constantly redirect the kids’ attention from the educational headlines: “Improve Your Sex Life With These 10 Tips!”, than be required to bag two weeks worth of groceries myself. It’s not that I’m above bagging; I’m a decent enough bagger (even if I perpetually forget to bring my reusable bags). It’s more that I find it incredibly challenging to organize our stock of go-gurts, goldfish and chicken nuggets while simultaneously riding herd on my herd.

I’m puzzling out how to cram the most groceries into the fewest number of paper bags with Small and Medium shaking the row of but-they-only-cost-a-quarter! toys 20 feet away when the laconic teenager says, “S’that your bread?”

There, at the wrong end of the conveyor belt, is my bread. “Yes,” I tell her. “That’s mine.”

“You want it?” she asks.

We stare at one another. My blood is rushing through my veins so quickly my heartbeat has to be audible. I stomp around to the other end of the checkout, nudge the bread onto the belt, return to my unwanted post and resume bagging.

Again, goth girl stops scanning. “Got ID for the wine?”

Again, we stare at one another. I reach for my purse. Except it’s on the other side of the cashier’s station. The side where the customers are supposed to stand. I put an overly full bag in the cart and scrabble around for my driver’s license.

Once upon a time, I was flattered when I was asked to show ID. Now, I’m just irritated. Someday, my testiness is going to get the better of me and an unwitting cashier is going to get an earful of: Are you blind? Can’t you see how old my children are? I’m not wearing any makeup, I haven’t showered in days and I have thirty minutes to get home and everyone fed before T-ball, so please, don’t delay me any longer! As it is, if I didn’t have to bag my own damn groceries, I’d open that screw-top bottle right here and start chugging!

Oh. Now I understand the dearth of baggers.

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I took the kids with me to the grocery store today, not by choice but by necessity. If I had attempted to serve them what was left in the cupboard—namely artichoke hearts and black olives—they might have tried to bury me in the backyard. Winter break is interminable.

Before we went, I tried to prepare myself and them. I carefully wrote out a shopping list (by aisle, no less), made sure their little stomachs were full (we went directly after lunch), and spoke with each of them about the difference between “helpful” and “unhelpful” behavior (Putting items Mommy hands you into the cart = Helpful. Attempting to lie down on the bottom rack of the cart = Unhelpful.).

Not that any of this ultimately mattered.

Kid Dialogue:

“I’m hungry!”

“EEEK!”

“But he scared me!”

“I want this!”

“But I WANT THIS!”

“OW! Mom! Liam just ran over my leg!”

“Can we have gummies?”

“But everybody else has these in their lunch!”

“How come YOU always get to pick out what WE eat?”

“Ewww!”

“NO!”

“Stop it!”

“He’s doing it again!”

“I wanna see the lobsters.”

“But I’m still looking at the lobsters!”

**Sob**

“Ooops!”

“Mom! Look what he did!”

**Sob**

“THEN can I have a muffin?”

“How come HE always gets what he wants?”

“I hafta go to the bathroom.”

“We need gum!”

“More gum!”

“Oh, no! I dropped my quarter!”

“Mommy, you gotta go back!”

Mom Dialogue:

“But you just ate!”

“Please, put that back.”

“Stop sniffing the rotisserie chicken. Remember last time?”

“No.”

“Where did Henry go?”

“Say ‘excuse me’.”

“I’m sorry. Excuse us.”

“Try harder not to run into people.”

“Get back in the cart.”

“Don’t hang on the side of the cart.”

“Be careful of the eggs!”

“No.”

“Get back in the cart.”

“Just put it back.”

“No.”

“No!”

“NO!”

“Get out of the cart.”

“Please, guys, we’re almost done. Keep it together.”

I am sure I had more than a glint of crazy in my eyes by the time we reached the cashier.

And that was before I noticed there was no bagger.

Would I like wine with my whine? Why thank you, I would.

P.S. This is one of the funniest commercials out there, thanks to my friend, K, for sharing it:

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