Rincon de Jay


Shopping at HEB

One of my least favorite things to do has always been grocery shopping. On the rare occasion that I announce I am going to HEB, my wife hands me a "short" list of things to pick up. Now the whole reason I'm going to the store to begin with is to pick up a couple of things like steaks and beer. I, like every other guy in the world, want to be in and out in no more than ten minutes. The list I'm handed usually contains things like Ream's frozen noodles, brown gravy mix and Kitchen Bouquet. The list might as well be written in Swahili for all the sense it makes to me.

So, I sneer, grudgingly take the list, wad it up in my pocket, and make the trek to HEB. There are five of these stores in town, but everyone seems to go to the one I choose. When I arrive at the parking lot I usually pick a spot about three miles from the entrance. This is because the rest of the parking lot is replete with grocery carts that no one seems to want to return. They make these cart return corrals, but I guess most people in Brownsville either can't read or like to practice maneuvering around the carts. I happen to like my car, so I park in the next zip code.

After dodging the carts and cars I make it to the entrance. I pull out one of the three carts left where they're supposed to be and find I must fight it's constant left pull. Someone ought to be able to make a mint running a grocery cart wheel alignment shop. I'm heading for the meat counter because that's what I came for and I know where it is. Not surprisingly, there is a line of people ahead of me. As usual, the lady at the front of the line can't make up her mind and has a list about a mile long. I head for the beer.

If you have ever been to HEB on Saturday and got out on the same day, you qualify for an appearance on Gladiators. My wife doesn't like going with me because I make cattle noises as we manipulate the cart between the family reunions on each aisle. I get the beer without incident (most of the heifers don't know where it is). I go back by the meat counter and the same lady is at the front of the line. Now I'm forced to find the stuff my wife wanted.

The only thing I know about Ream's frozen noodles is that they should be in the frozen food section. I find that, but where the hell are the noodles? Aha! Here's an HEB guy -- he'll know where they are. We both spend about ten minutes looking for them and conclude that they don't carry Ream's frozen noodles. Scratch that off the list.

I ask him to direct me to the brown gravy mix and he tells me it's on aisle 7 about midway down on the left. When I get to aisle 7, about midway down is another family reunion. We'll get this one later.

What in the hell is Kitchen Bouquet? I find the same HEB guy and ask him. He asks me what it's for. Now I'm thinking, what business is it of yours? Well, I haven't a clue what Kitchen Bouquet is for. It sounds to me like some air freshener that makes your house smell like a kitchen. We conclude that they probably don't carry that either. Back to the meat counter where the same lady is in the front of the line. We'll try the brown gravy mix again.

Hey! The reunion is over! Now all I have to decide is which brown gravy mix she wants. Oh well, they're all the same. Got that one down. All that's left are the steaks. Voilą! The lady is gone. I get some nice cuts and now I'm out of here! Almost.

The checkout lines are swamped. If there's one thing I've learned, it's pick the line with the most guys in it. They don't screw around. So I pick that line, but up at the front is a lady with a purse full of coupons. Great! A half hour later I'm finally at the cashier. She rings me up and hands me a receipt with $0.09 worth of free gas on it. Wonderful! I'll go pump this right away.

I get to my car and here's a cart parked right next to it. So I load up the car and take both carts to the corral. By the way, these are now the only two carts in the corral.

On the way home, I'm feeling really good about myself for accomplishing this shopping venture, but when I get there my wife asks where the noodles and the Kitchen Bouquet are. I explain to her that the guy at HEB told me they don't carry them and she proceeds to tell me exactly where they are. I guess this information was confidential before I left for the store. Oh, and of course, the brown gravy mix is the wrong kind.

The steaks and beer are fine however.

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