During the last Mahket run, Ma toodled on the scooter to the produce department with me trailing a safe ten paces behind.
Ma stopped and surveyed the department. A hunter getting the lay of the land.
"You know those green peppers you picked last time went bad. Your father put them in the basement."
"That's not my fault if you don't store the food properly."
"I know," she conceded. Ma horned in on the display of green beans.
A younger woman was carefully selecting her choices, one by one, and putting them in a plastic bag.
"You didn't do a good job picking out the green beans last time," Ma sniffed. "Some of them were touched."
I almost commented on what was touched, but kept my mouth shut.
"I want a pound. Pick them like that girl over there is doing."
"Maybe we should let her pick out your green beans," I muttered.
The woman turned as she overheard the conversation. I smiled politely as I pulled a plastic bag from the roll.
My turn came, and I approached the altar of the green beans. Under Ma's hawk gaze, I selected a candidate and promptly rejected it. I was sure there was nothing particularly wrong with that green bean, but it seemed the prudent way to go. I selected another and put it in the bag. Ma must have approved because she zoomed down the aisle in search of other veggie prey.
By now, you've all picked up the fact I hate shopping. I hate grocery shopping in particular, and I especially despise shopping at the Mahket. I don't do the grocery shopping for my own family. Himself came to me as the designated slayer of grocery since he did the food shopping for his mother, and he naturally assumed the role in our marriage. It was either that or starve. Grocery shopping falls under the "not a Little Princess job" like yard work or bathroom cleaning.
I looked at the mound of green beans as if they were writhing adders. I pushed my hand into the underlayers to see if the specimens were any better than the fellows on the top. As I did this, I began to wonder how many people, during the start of flu season, have pawed through the beans before I arrived. Had they washed their hands before they arrived for shopping? Had some child picked and wiped his hand on his nose and helpfully helped his mother select green beans? I shuddered, and made a mental note for next time. Grab another bag and use it as a glove so I wouldn't have to actually touch the produce.
More selecting and my eye caught the sign announcing Fresh Green Beans. Fresh my Aunt Fanny. How fresh can green beans be sitting in a bin that is not refrigerated and sitting in the bin for God knows how long? Do the beans stay in the bin overnight? Does the produce manager have his clerks restock the vegetables into a refrigerator overnight? The beans sitting in the bin can't be fresh. Fresh is being shipped to the produce plant minutes after picking and being flash frozen and ensconced in a polybag. If vegetables are not sealed in a polybag, they shouldn't be brought home.
I took my bag of beans to the scale to be weighed. My hands felt gritty. Another mental note, bring some wipes next time. Better yet, try to get Ma and Dad to subscribe to Peapod, the online grocery shopping service in their area. Though that wouldn't work, I'd be getting calls at all hours that "they didn't send me my green beans."
I found Ma in the aisle looking at polybags of apples.
"I want a bag of MacIntosh."
Shopping with your mother, $200.00. Not having to hand select MacIntosh apples? Priceless.