Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Down the Grocery Lane

62, Birkbeck Road, by George Faludy

This is the address of our little place.
Our furniture may be old-fashioned,
But we have plenty of books to read,
We are in need of nothing. We are happy
That we are alive and learning.
To be, not to possess.

'We are in need of nothing.'
I like that. It is a very powerful thing to be able to say. Sometimes I think I am almost nearly at that point- then somebody mentions the word 'book' or 'buffet' and I am off again, trying to justify why I need it.

Occasionally my Spouse and myself browse the malls but it is mostly for entertainment as we love to see what new apparatus has gone on sale this week that we do not care for. Mayhap we spend too much time doing that, buying nothing. It does keep the wallet from seeing daylight, though. But if one does not make a purchase then it balances out nicely.

Last month I was in the music and film section of a store. An elderly man with a name tag glided up beside me and asked if I needed any assistance.
“No,” I said, “thank you. I'm just looking.”
He nodded and moved away, and I carried on. Ten minutes later the same man noticed me and asked the same question. I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt that he sees a lot of people and did not recall me from earlier. Either that or he had an equally helpful twin. I politely repeated my assurance that I was only having a look. As I was about to turn back to my perusing, he confided, “just to warn you— we close at eleven.”
My chorus of “eleven- all right, thank you,” was barely past my lips when a doorbell rang loudly inside my head. It was only three in the afternoon.

Joking aside, there are easier ways to cut down your shopping and browsing time. Previously, when we did our grocery it was a chaotic disaster in many ways but particularly due to the fact that we had no set shopping list. We would go up and down each aisle, wondering and wandering until we thought we had everything we could use for the week. Sadly, there would invariably be numerous items we would have to return for as the week progressed.

One of the bright ideas my Spouse contributed was to stop taking a lumbering, cumbersome shopping cart. Its purpose is of course to make it easier for you to walk around and take time deciding. So we changed to a hand basket (one each to begin with, and as our grocery got better we only needed one) which effectively killed our arms but more importantly, our desire to browse. After a few weeks of virtually having to put each other's arms back in their sockets, we vowed to make a shopping list and get in and out of there as fast as we could.

Our grocery costs immediately came down, and so did our time spent roaming the aisles. Another thing we did was to create a 'permanent list' of everything we buy over a matter of months. Then each week when we need to create a mini shopping list we look at it and take the needed items from that- ensuring we never forget anything.

Nowadays when we stroll around the mall, we take our food and drink with us. In earlier times we would, without exception, go to the Food Court and, even though we never had more than one semi-filling meal between us, it still is not cheap when it's on a whim.

My Spouse drinks water from a reusable glass bottle, and I fill my bottle with one tenth juice concentrate, the rest water. We carry homemade soda bread or even some crackers if we think we will not be out that long. In the worst situation we do not get hungry at all and we carry the food for nothing. The best scenario, of course, is that we avoid giving in to capricious cravings and save our money for real restaurants when we have planned ahead and anticipated the event. That is what dining out is for us, and should remain: an event, to be savoured.

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