Going for supplies

January.17.2012

If there is one thing that I took for granted living in a more urban area, it was going grocery shopping. I remember when I was growing up and I would ride my bike to the grocery store just for something to do. Now, going to the grocery store is a much more complex situation.

Today was one of my days off for the week. As such, we began planning our trip to the store the day before. Even that seems ridiculously to me. We are going to get food, not robbing a bank. If getting cereal ever becomes an Ocean’s 11-esque ordeal, it is probably time to reevaluate your life. But I digress…

So we decided that in order to maximize our trip, we would do the following: buy some groceries, buy a present for a birthday party the kids were going to later in the week, pick up a prescription and get the oil changed in the car. It was a full slate, but when all of these conveniences live 45 minutes from the motherland, it pays to consolidate your travel.

As we started to plan the itinerary (paging Mr. Clooney to the set), we realized that our best bet was to eat a large lunch, then make the voyage. That would buy us enough time to complete our tasks and end the trip with supper at a fancy fast food restaurant. It has become a bit of delicacy in our family.

I dropped Jamie and the kids off at Wal-Mart and drove the car over to the auto shop. I had not accounted for the bitter cold of today. I trudged through the snow and wind and I could feel my face getting red and wind burned. I stopped short of Wal-Mart and checked on the prices of a new cell phone plan for Jamie and myself. I could have done it another time, but then again when you are in the urban jungle of Portage, WI, it’s best to strike while the iron is hot.

I finally made it to Wal-Mart: The holy land of small town middle America. Considering our geography, it is not uncommon to be met by Amish families at this particular location. I used to think how odd it must be for them to be here surrounded by so much “stuff” but I am quickly realizing that my existence is really only a beard and a few horses away from theirs. We are both here stocking up for the next few weeks in hopes that nothing breaks or runs short in between.

We do our shopping and the only hiccup is when our 4 year-old son gets stuck on his master plan for the day: “I want to build a robot.” It may sound odd, but it’s par for the course with him. He is a creator of things. This morning he was cutting and taping together booklets of paper. When asked what he was doing he simply said, “I am making Bibles. For people who don’t have them.”

As we prepared to leave, we noticed huge lines at the registers. Through the murmurs of the crowd we hear that the “computers are down.” Considering the technological era we live in, it was about the vaguest description of the situation I could think of, but I later pieced together that what they meant to say was that credit and debit card payments were down. Uh oh.

Total panic in the current financial paradigm of Wal-Mart. You can see on the faces of most people in line that they live and die by the plastic with little plan B. Thankfully we pay our church offering every week by check and the checkbook was still in our family traveling luggage. God saves us from personal chaos again.

Before a riot begins, I make my exit. Time to get the car. Back out into Siberia…

We finally get everything loaded and eat dinner. Just as we are settled in and prepare to make the drive back home, Jamie suddenly remembers we almost forgot the prescription we needed filled. A near crisis averted.

It was at this moment I realized something. We are the modern day equivalent of frontiers people. We make this journey to the big city general store to refill our pantry, our medicine cabinet and to maintain our lives. Forget something and it will hurt. Remember something and it is a victory. Every trip is different. Every trip is an adventure. Especially with four kids in a Wal-Mart.

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