Friday, September 14, 2007

They Must Be Postal Workers In Training

"I want cold lunch today...they're having BEAN BURRITOS for lunch!" Kailey informed me with a scrunched up nose.

The past two days have been parent-teacher conferences which means the kids have half-days. They're out of school by 11:00 am, but the school district still insists on serving them lunch, which on any half-day is bean burritos. Do you know how many kids voluntarily eat the half-day cafeteria bean burritos? Two. Why they continue to serve them, or even HAVE a lunch period for a 3 1/2 hour school day, is beyond me.

It was 6:30 am. I had consulted the lunch menu earlier in the week and was relieved to find that bean burritos were not on the menu for Thursday and Friday's half days. But that was apparently an oversight on behalf of the menu-making people. The half-day would not be denied bean burrito status. And of course we hadn't been to the grocery store this week and had bupkus in the way of, well, food. I could have packed them a can of peaches and some tuna fish, but decided to spare them the social stigma of bringing canned goods to school for lunch. That type of thing tends to stick with you for a while.

So I was off to the store while Diane got the girls ready for school. Diane told me that while I was there I may as well pick up some things that I wanted for my meals for work and that she would do some clean-up shopping later in the day. I said, "Cool," and headed out the door.

Now I don't know about you, but anytime I stop by the deli counter at the grocery store, it DOUBLES the time of my shopping trip. I could be spending $10 or $200, it doesn't matter. And I could be the only one in the whole frickin' store (as was the case this morning), it makes no difference. Half the time I spend shopping will be spent standing at the stinking deli counter. I've tried buying the packaged lunch meats, but they're just not the same, at least in my mind, so I bite the bullet and throw myself to the mercy of the lethargic deli counter workers.

I usually try to keep it simple and order one thing. I walk up to the counter and see all of these packages of meat piled up against the display window, but no matter what I order, it's never right there in the case! The deli debutante excuses herself with a grunt, then shuffles into the freezer to find a fresh meat pack (reader, get your mind out of the gutter). She emerges moments later then spends several minutes looking for razor with which to slice the plastic open, drain it into the sink, then plop the chunk of meat onto the slicer. "Now how much of this do you want?" They ALWAYS have to ask again because it's WAY too difficult to remember either a HALF POUND or a POUND. Perhaps I should start ordering bizarre amounts, like .79 of a pound or a 1.13. Maybe that'll stick in their heads.

And heaven forbid if I want two different things! Because they'll complete the first order, then ask "Now what was that other thing you wanted?" because, hell, if they can't remember HOW MUCH you want, there's no freakin' way they're going to remember MULTIPLE MEATS. They then go through the WHOLE PROCESS OVER AGAIN, including the search for the razor that they JUST USED. It's totally frustrating. And it doesn't matter who waits on me, the results are always the same. They must train 'em that way.

Yesterday morning I made the mistake of believing that since I was the only one there I could order some roast beef AND mesquite chicken and receive them in a reasonable amount of time. Nope. There I stood, clock ticking away against my cold lunch prep time. It was 7:10 when the lady finally plopped the last of my order up on the counter. Knowing I now had no time to put together two lunches, I raced over to the non-deli meat section, grabbed two Oscar-Meyer Lunchable packs, which the girls would probably rather eat anyway, and raced back to the checkout isle.

I was the hero of the day as packed the Lunchables, with their processed meat, Ritz crackers, Butterfinger candy bar, and Capri Sun sugary fruit drink, into the girls lunch boxes. If I had only known it would be that easy. I guess it was ultimately my fault, as it usually is. I didn't have to order two things at the deli counter yesterday morning, fully knowing deep down in my heart how it would all go down, but selfishness took over: I had a hankerin' for roast beef.

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