I Had to Give Back the Walnuts

In preparation for next week, I went shopping in Carytown today.  Knowing that I could not afford Ukrop’s I went to Kroger’s.  I picked up the whitest white generic bread possible.  Carrots were the next item.  Forget organic.  Forget pre-washed and packaged.  I got some old-school carrots – big and already dry.  They don’t even bother to mist these carrots.  Apples…well I could only afford two.  I will cut them up and spread them out over the week.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kroger peanut butter (crunchy in fact) was affordable.  That takes care of lunches.  Dinners?  My strategy is to eat beans and rice all week long.  Let me be specific, Kroger white rice and Kroger kidney beans.  I could not afford black beans.  I grabbed a bag of Kroger walnuts as well.  I knew I was cutting it close, but I still had to get my hygiene products.  I scored a toothbrush for 99 cents, Kroger brand of course.  Next, I looked at deodorants.  The “Brut” brand was on sale for 99 cents.  Score!  Yet, upon further thought, I concluded that I would rather go natural all week long instead of using “Brut” deodorant.  I will have to borrow, if that is the right term, toothpaste from students.  We are allowed to pool together our resources.  Coffee, coffee, coffee…there was no way that I could afford it.  I have to be creative to find ways to get my caffeine.  Walking up and down the aisles, I was stunned by how much time I was taking to decide what to get.  This was time that I could be using to do research, grade exams, or spend with my wife and son.  It was not an efficient use of my time.  Before this project, I would rarely if ever look at the price of an item. I would grab what I want and buy it without thinking.  What about my contacts lens fluid?  What about floss?  What about shaving cream? What about soap?  So many questions!

At checkout I was watching the total accrue (another thing that I never do).  It hit $10.83!  The bagger asked “Paper or plastic?” And, I answered, “hold on, I may have to take something back.”  Almost simultaneously, the bagger and checkout girl said “Ooooh”.  The checkout girl gave me a glare of impatience.  The bagger, an older guy, tried to make a joke in an attempt to make me comfortable.  I immediately, almost instinctively, started fumbling my words in attempt to explain the project.  Thank God there was no one behind me in line I thought.  Emotions rose up inside of me.  The most dominant was shame.  Do they really think I cannot afford these groceries?  I have not had to deal with these emotions in a very long time.  My childhood came back in waves.  Thoughts of my mom removing items from packed up bags and handing them back as my sisters and I sat in the grocery cart.  I was completely caught off guard.  I had not thought this far ahead.  As I left the store, I put on my $50 sunglasses, dropped off my groceries in the truck, and carried my lap-top to the Starbuck’s next door and ordered a large mocha (a frivolous good completely devoid of any nutritional value which would have wiped out half of my budget this coming week).  My pride and sense of worth returned.  The juxtaposition begins. 

(I had to give back the walnuts.)


If you enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my This is the Work newsletter.

Thanks. – shawn

P.S. Read the Sidekick Manifesto and Take the Pledge!