Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In the Night Grocery

I was going to go grocery shopping last night, but I couldn't find my purse. I looked everywhere. I drove to Hyvee, discovered I didn't have it, drove home. But it wasn't sitting on the table, hanging on a chair, it hadn't been left behind on my bed, liked I'd hoped. It was nowhere. I took a flashlight and searched the car. I took the flashlight and searched the dark, brown wood of the dining room floor. Maybe it had fallen. Because my purse is brown suede, it blends into other browns easily.

Just as I was slowly but surely losing my mind, I found it where I would never have thought to look: underneath a daughter. Annabelle had been sitting on it the whole time, only half-aware that something was there beneath her, or behind her on the chair.

I reclaimed my squashed suede purse and resumed my shopping trip. By this time it was late enough that my grocery store had begun the transformation it undergoes every night, becoming overrun by night shift workers and stock boys who block the aisles with big pallets and unpack cans and jars right under your nose. This Hyvee is open to shoppers for 24 hours, but once it hits ten o'clock or so, all the nice "smile in every aisle" business is over and customers are on their own, left to navigate a rugged terrain of boxes and dollies.

For awhile, I was nearly the only customer in the store, and it felt quite lonely to be the only one roaming such a harsh environment. But then as the hour ticked on, and the moon reached just the right spot overhead, a fresh wave of partiers and insomniacs and other creatures of the night entered the store and poured through the aisles. They stepped nonchalantly over the scattered piles of inventory as they filled their baskets with Campbells, crackers, whatever. They pushed their way through the cardboard canyons with an ease that suggested they were accustomed to shopping at this hour, amongst the stocking ghouls who hunkered over their boxes and turned the shelves inside out. I, on the other hand, found the feminine hygiene aisle impassable, and after a moment of peering into its shadows, hurried off before someone could ask me if they could get something for me. 


  1. when i worked nights at the newspaper, i would stop in the 24 hr. grocery on my way home...usually around 4am. no more stockers at that hour. kinda creepy and quiet. especially because they shut off the musak! i love your post. very funny and clever.

  2. just had to share the two words your blog required to post...."babington creetail"..! doesn't that sound like a character in a childrens book??