12: The Kroger Queen

12: The Kroger Queen

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

The Kroger Queen

The quickest way to get to know a woman is to go shopping with her.

~Marcelene Cox

I admit it; I’m not a normal girl. I absolutely hate shopping. Who wants to battle thick traffic on confusing roads just to end up in a huge building packed with humanity and sensory overload? No, thank you.

My mom, however, is an expert shopper.

I did not fully appreciate shopping as a skill until the summer Mom had a fall and was banned by doctor’s orders from driving for a while. This did not stop the shopper from doing her thing.

“Could you maybe take me to Kroger since I can’t drive?” Mom asked one day.

I really didn’t want to go, so I suggested, “Well, if you’re too dizzy to drive, you definitely shouldn’t be going to a store, right? I mean, what if you would, I don’t know, crash into something and cause a scene?”

But nothing could separate Mom from Kroger. Not even a concussion. Kroger is like a second home to her. “I think I’ll be fine,” she said. “I just need a few items.”

Uh-oh. I had heard that line before.

I found myself setting off for terrifying territory the next day. I thought we could leave right away in the morning, to get it over with, but Mom wanted to get all her coupons ready first. She sat at the table, cutting coupons out of newspapers and ticking things off her grocery list. Around noon she was ready. She added a very large stack of coupons to her already bulging “coupon wallet.” There must have been seventy coupons in there!

If I thought Mom’s shopping strategy ended with the coupons, I was wrong. As I pulled into the parking lot, Mom said, “Take the road to the right. If you go left, you have to stop for pedestrians.”

I turned into a parking space, pulling forward into the empty space in front of us. “Why are you doing that?” Mom asked.

“That’s so I can drive forward instead of backing out,” I replied smugly. “I do have a strategy too, you know.”

“But we need to park with the trunk facing out,” Mom protested. “If the trunk faces toward the other vehicles, it’s hard to put the groceries in.”

Defeated, I re-parked, losing the thirteen seconds I had gained by taking the road to the right. We got out and I looked in the direction of the carts. “Oh, no, we can get those inside,” Mom said.

Inside, I got a cart and was heading for the grocery section when Mom said, “Stop! I always wipe the handlebar. You never know what germs are on there.”

I had walked right by that little canister of sanitary wipes and never noticed them. If I had noticed them, it would never have occurred to me to use them on the cart. I was ready to crown Mom “Queen of Kroger” right then, but the shopping hadn’t even begun. Mom took the cart from me, muttering something about lack of control, and gave me a list of things to find.

There were three things on that list, all roughly in the same category. In fact, they were all in the same aisle. I wandered that store for almost half an hour, looking for the first item, and had quite a bit of trouble finding the other two, which may or may not have been right next to the first one. At one point, I considered hiring one of the Kroger staff as a personal shopper. I finally found the things I was assigned and tracked down Mom. She, of course, had already gotten most of the other things on her list.

Once the initial shock wore off, I noticed a strange thing. The Kroger shoppers could be neatly divided into two categories: 10% were painfully out of place, like me, and 90% were avid shoppers like Mom. I even recognized the same look in their eyes. They were mostly moms, and all of them were dead set on getting that twenty-cent discount on their toothpaste and eggs. I even began to understand why Mom liked going to Kroger. These were her people!

After detouring to make sure there was nothing she wanted on the sale rack, Mom headed to the checkout. I watched in amazement as the subtotals and totals appeared on the screen. All that work clipping coupons paid off, because Mom saved about thirty dollars. I started plotting how to get Mom to do my shopping for me for the rest of my life.

~Hannah Yoder

More stories from our partners