A man and a grocery list
Did you hear the one about the husband who grocery shops so rarely that when he finally does the bank puts a fraud alert on his debit card?
It happens to be a true story, and it happened here last week.
Not that I blame the bank. I don't think the husband's been to the commissary more than a handful of times since we've been here. Most of those were "can you pick up a gallon of milk on the way home?" trips with only scant resemblance to the every-other-week triple-digit marathons the bank's used to seeing on my card.
At one point I had him grocery-store trained, and that's no mean feat when you regularly use eight varieties of flour and seven vinegars. Somewhere between here and Afghanistan, though, he lost his way.
He also had been complaining about the triple-digit food bills. "My family never spends that much," he said.
"Your family never spends that much at one time. They also go several times a week. And they eat out a lot more than we do."
He kept griping even after I ran some numbers and told him it would cost $840 for four of us to eat three meals at day for two weeks at Burger King.
"Maybe you should try it and see how much you can save," I invited.
I printed out the grocery list, and he eyed the 70-some items. "How much do you think this will be?" he asked.
"Probably around $150. Maybe $170 if you can find everything, but you usually can't," I said.
He snorted. "$170? We'll just see about that. They cheat you at the commissary. You have to watch as the price scans. No way will it be that much."
"I always watch as it scans."
Another snort. "We'll see."
His first problem was deciphering my list. It's written in Debra-speak, which is abbreviations because why should I spend more time typing than I have to. I tried to clean it up as much as I could, but failed. That led to his first call.
"What's 'sin toes'?" he asked.
"I don't know. A pedicure in Las Vegas?"
"No, it's 'c-i-n-n t-o-s',"
"Oh, that's Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It's what the guys eat every morning."
"And we really need three boxes?"
"Only if you want it to last until the end of next week."
Next we navigated "gronions" and "grah crax." We made it through "jalap," "papple" - canned, not fresh - and "cinn rolls." The last one was easy after Sin Toes. We determined that because the commissary had pumpkin pie mix but not pumpkin puree he shouldn't buy anything. No ham? Fine. Just buy an extra package of chicken for dinner next Monday.
An hour and a half later, just as he was leaving the commissary, the bank called. The total transaction: $172.14. I guess he didn't watch the scanner closely enough.
I'm also guessing that it will be quite a while before he goes again. "This crap is exhausting," he said as he lugged the bags inside.
Yeah. No kidding.
Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.