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I Fight an Old Lady for Pop Tarts

One day it so happened that we were out of milk, and it was my turn to go shopping. My wife and I were starving students, and we didn’t have a lot of money. And I don’t know where my wife got this crazy idea that I’m some sort of reckless spender, but for whatever reason, she made me promise to only buy what I was able to carry.

So I went to the grocery store, grabbed a gallon of milk, and walked straight to checkout aisle. Yes, I was tempted by the Doritos and Oreos, but come on, I had will power. The cashier asked if I had a smart shopper’s savings card. I did not. She asked if I would like to sign up for a smart shopper’s savings card in order to save twenty percent on my next purchase. I was not interested. She asked if I would like to donate five dollars to help the monkeys in Asia. I did not want to help the monkeys in Asia. She asked if I would like to reduce waste and save the planet by choosing not to have my milk in a bag. Truthfully, I was feeling guilty about the monkeys, so I said yes.

And that was that. Until, on my way out of the grocery store, I noticed that M&M’s and Cap’n Crunch were buy-one-get-one free, and I thought, what good is milk without Cap’n Crunch? And you can’t just have a bowl of Cap’n Crunch without M&M’s. In the long run, these amazing deals would save us money. I’d be stupid not to buy. So with the gallon of milk and two bags of M&M’s in one arm and two boxes of Cap’n Crunch in the other arm, I made my way back to the checkout aisle.

Then it occurred to me that our dishes were dirty, and therefore there was no way to eat the Cap’n Crunch. So I picked up packages of seventy-two Styrofoam bowls and fifty plastic spoons. By now my arms were completely full, which was fine, because I was done spending. I told the cashier that I did not want a smart shoppers savings card, and I did not want to help the monkeys, which still made me feel bad, so again I opted to save the planet by not using bags. I’d already made it this far. Surely I could make it to the car.

And I would have gone to my car had not the manager announced over the P.A. that all baked goods were now fifty percent off. Now I know you, like my wife, are thinking I have some sort of spending problem, but this was about civil duty. If I didn’t buy some bagels, they would go to waste. And how could I, in good conscience, try to save the planet by not using plastic bags while simultaneously squandering precious resources in the form of bagels? So I picked up a few dozen, though I didn’t put them in bags, because I felt really bad about those monkeys.

Now, carrying a gallon of milk, two boxes of Cap’n Crunch, two bags of M&M’s, seventy-two Styrofoam bowls, fifty plastic spoons, and thirty-six bagels proved to be a formidable challenge, especially when it occurred to me that bagels are completely useless without cream cheese, and I had to transport it all to the dairy section. Speaking of which, do you know how much it costs for eight measly ounces of cream cheese? You would be stupid not to buy it in bulk, which is two cents cheaper per ounce. I was going to pick up the ten pound bucket, but it didn’t have a handle, so I had to go with the twenty pound bucket, which I hung around my neck. Now lest you think I was getting reckless with my spending, I remind you that cream cheese was a need, not a want. And after this, I was done. Besides, when you account for all the money I was saving with these amazing half-off deals, it’s like the store was paying me.

Now, the problem with carrying a gallon of milk, two boxes of Cap’n Crunch, two bags of M&M’s, seventy-two Styrofoam bowls, fifty plastic spoons, thirty-six bagels, and twenty pounds of cream cheese is that people start to give you funny looks … as if there’s some social stigma against saving money. I can’t explain it. But to spare the onlookers from visual discomfort, I hid both boxes of Cap’n Crunch beneath my shirt … so I didn’t look stupid. However, this did not achieve the intended outcome of making me not look stupid. In fact, it may have actually had a reverse effect, as it gave the impression that my pectoral muscles were unusually boxy. So, to soften my appearance, I stuffed the gallon of milk beneath the boxes, giving my belly a more gradual rotundness. However, then it occurred to me that because my belly was the only bulbous party of my body, I looked more pregnant than fat. So to further soften my appearance, I threaded my hands and ankles through the bagels and slid them beneath my sleeves and pants. It’s a little-known fact that this is why bagels have holes, stemming from medieval times when they were used as both armor and food. Anyway, with bagels limbs adding to my girth, I finally achieved the appearance of a well-rounded fat person … with slightly boxy pectoral muscles.

Then I had a realization. While only holding seventy-two styrofoam bowls, fifty spoons, and two bags of M&M’s, my hands were relatively free. Thus I could carry more things, such as Doritos and Oreos, and as previously explained, with so much savings, the costs didn’t matter; so I grabbed a few packages of each. However, as my net weight was increasing, I found it more and more difficult to walk. Luckily, the grocery store provided electric shopping carts – you know, the ones reserved for old ladies and the morbidly obese, like myself.

What more, I realized that there was room on my lap for more groceries, and there was no rule against laps. So I drove through the aisles, looking for deals. And it must have been my lucky day, because Pop Tart boxes were ten for the price of nine. It was unbelievable. The only problem was, the morbidly obese old lady in the other electric cart also had her eye on the pop tarts, and she started loading them into her basket before I could even get to them. This made me nervous, because there were only so many boxes left, and if I didn’t purchase ten, I wouldn’t get the deal. So I pulled up beside her and also started loading up. Soon I had five, seven, nine … Finally I grabbed the last box off the shelf, guaranteeing my savings.

I claimed it fair and square, so you can imagine my shock when the old lady snatched the tenth box right out of my hands and drove off. Believe me when I say I had every intention of respecting the elderly, but these were dire circumstances. I was a starving student, and I needed those pop tarts. So I chased her. Cruising at a whopping five miles per hour, the chase went through the junk food aisle, around a corner, past the deli, and into the produce section, which I normally avoided on principle. She threw a can of chili at me, but I veered to the left. As we circled around the apples and oranges, I was closing in on her. With one hand on the accelerator, I leaned forward to snatch the Pop Tarts from her basket. Then, in the last moment, she pulled a hard right, and before I saw it coming, I crashed into the bread aisle.

Normally, a small vehicle traveling at five miles per hour wouldn’t have been sufficient to knock over an entire aisle. But I remind you that energy equals mass times acceleration, and with a gallon of milk, two boxes of Cap’n Crunch, two bags of M&M’s, seventy-two Styrofoam bowls, fifty plastic spoons, thirty-six bagels, twenty pounds of cream cheese, and nine boxes of Pop Tarts … I had mass. The bread aisle crashed onto the baby food aisle. The baby food aisle crashed on the baking aisle. And like dominoes, the carnage went on and on.

When all was said and done, I owed the grocery store a few ten of thousands dollars for damages. But as I explained, when you factor in the savings, it’s all relative. What matters is that you shop with discipline. With the exception of a few thousand broken bottles, I didn’t buy a single thing that I couldn’t carry out of the store with me. I only regret that the milk never made it to the car. I was halfway through the parking lot when it slipped out of my shirt and burst on the asphalt. But then, it made me look pregnant, and who wanted milk anyway?

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