The Camel’s Back Broke

Two weeks ago I wrote about grocery shopping on-line. Basically I wrote, I do not like it. The plain and simple fact is I want to do it myself. There are many pros and cons to selecting this banana or that banana (I never pick up a banana bunch and put the whole thing in my cart). Selecting bananas may have to be a post all of its own one day (or not). It’s not just bananas, but everything in my cart is selected with attention to cost analysis, nutritional information, taste, and familiarity with a product (just a few factors to consider).

So, when the store (on-line) says it has Charmin Soft in multiple sized packages, I was quick to add one to my cart, but I included a note to the shopper. I requested that I would be happy with whatever size bundle of rolls were available as long as it was Charmin Soft. I did not want Charmin Strong. (Don’t ask what’s the difference. Just know it matters to someone.) The camel’s back began to fracture when I pulled Best Choice (a very generic brand of this grocery store) pack from the bag. I looked at this package with such disappointment, but tried to remind myself to be grateful to have any.

The next item completely broke the camel’s back. I could not even summon an ounce of gratefulness. Let me explain. You already know I am a fussy shopper. I try to use healthy ingredients (most of the time). We don’t often have ground beef, but when we do, I try to use lean beef. I had ordered 3 packs of ground sirloin, 93% lean. I got 3 packs of 73% lean hamburger. That did it! I just can’t do this anymore!

The next day I announced I was going to the largest grocery store in town (hoping they would have the most selection available and they had strawberries on sale 🙂 ). I would put on double plastic gloves and wear a face mask in order to pick my own groceries.

Fast forward to my arrival at the grocery store. My heart raced as I entered the store, breathing was difficult (not because of the mask). My eyes darted from side to side as I avoided other shoppers. I found the arrows and began my journey into a wondrous land.

Here are 5 chopped red peppers.

Produce was first – I quickly filled the bottom of my cart with red potatoes, russet potatoes, leaf lettuce, arugula, Gala apples, strawberries, and ten (yes ten) red peppers. (What does a person need with ten red peppers? A person can chop them and put them in the freezer to add to dishes when there are no red peppers in the produce bin of the fridge.)

Up and down the aisles (always following the arrows that some people think are optional) selecting this item and that item which have been on my on-line list but never in my grocery bags. I felt like the kid in the candy store, but my “candy” was salt-free diced tomatoes and garbanzo beans. More and more were added to the cart because I could. I have never had such a full cart in my life! No one could see the smile on my face behind my mask.

As I checked out, I spied a sign: Senior shopping from 7-8 a.m. every day. This was not going to be my last trip to this store. I don’t need to rush back too soon, I am pretty well stocked for a while.



25 thoughts on “The Camel’s Back Broke

  1. I love this post! I had a similar experience last week shopping for my 94 year old father! And I’m right with you about the Charmin Ultra Soft instead of Ultra Strong. Don’t ask me why. Grocery shopping should become an Olympic Event!

  2. crushlevine says:

    “Because I could” earned you an audible chuckle. Go, elsie! I was smiling the whole way through this scene, picturing your grin behind that mask. I honestly don’t know how you did the online thing for so long, although it was sort of like being in a cooking competition where you have to figure out what to make with limited (or distasteful) ingredients.

  3. mrsday75 says:

    We don’t have the option of digital shopping in our little grocery store, but from your description, I think I’m glad I still get to go pick out my groceries every 10 days or so!

  4. Hi Elsie, I love reading all your thoughts and feelings as you shopped! In something as mundane as grocery shopping (or something that WAS mundane), I got to know a great deal about you. And your choice of photos to share drove your points home. I loved seeing the chopped red peppers. Hm, I think, I should do that..

  5. Oh my GOSH!!! I love this. I am not going to the grocery store either — and it’s tough! I love your description of how you felt — the anxiety as well as the joy! I can feel both and am right there in solidarity with you over the joy of 12 peppers. I actually misread the grocery ordering app and instead of 6 bananas I ended up with 6 BUNCHES! lolololol It’s amazing the fab things one can make with bananas, and the idea of frozen bananas whenever I want a smoothie is fabulous!

    Stay safe. Keep enjoying the small things, and stand firm on the things that are important to you! 😀

    Oh, and btw, thanks for your comment on my blog post — sorry my response was short. Teaching Kindergarten remotely sometimes just undoes me. But I loved reading your response! 🙂

  6. This is such a great example of how grocery shopping has changed in such a short amount of time. I have never tried online grocery shopping yet – too scared(?) so I appreciated having this perspective.

    I love that you could write a whole post on bananas! Me too.

  7. Michelle @litlearningzone says:

    I have endured the pleasures and discomforts of online grocery shopping. At first, I was overjoyed with the ease of placing things in my cart, but the disappointments when an item was not available or the silly substitutions. (I, too, wonder who is doing the shopping. My guess? An 18 year old with minimal experience!) For safety, we are sticking to the online shopping. But I could feel the joy and triumphs through your writing … makes me a little excited to get back to the grocery store to enjoy in the get to do it (rather than have to, as you mentioned)! 🙂 And yes … I was shocked to see Clorox wipes too!! That’s like GOLD!

  8. I think we would shop well together and I think I would do okay picking out your groceries after reading your post as I think you would do fine with my list! I loved the thought of you smiling behind your mask! And yes, ten peppers, especially red, is a definite!

  9. Joyce Huff says:

    Such a nice full basket!
    Not shopping is certainly a new experience for me, however…..I do enjoy having a shopper that cleans the surface of all items before delivery.

  10. I love hearing your voice as if we were sitting across the table and you were telling this story. Sigh of relief for you. Shopping meets more than your need for food; its the satisfaction of getting what you want.

  11. I feel very fortunate to have our daughter doing the shopping for us. She knows what I like and when there’s a question, she texts or calls. I know, I’m spoiled! But one thing I have learned is that I can make a meal plan and shop once every two weeks. I never thought I could do that, but it’s my new normal.

  12. I totally understand your experience! I had a similar one. I did online shopping before COVID, and it worked much better. I have a feeling with the shelves at the grocery stores the way they are, it makes it hard to shop. I will try it again when life returns to somewhat “normal”. Right now I’ll wear my mask and go myself.

  13. I couldn’t help but notice there was no iceberg lettuce in your basket. LOL! Yay for leaf lettuce! You made me smile with your asides. I wish I were eating at your house this week — yum!

  14. Terje says:

    I am the opposite of you. If I could, I would avoid shopping in any form. Reading your shopping adventures is exciting. This I could do more often.

  15. lindabaie says:

    I miss shopping terribly, as much as anything I miss seeing my friends, the checkers. But as I’ve agreed to, my daughter is doing the shopping for me, thus no problem with choosing. She & I think about the same. Early on I ordered a few things like certain vitamins I take & a favorite lotion from Amazon. I have also ordered with a pick-up curb service at my local Ace Hardware so that worked well. My son says those at his grocery also don’t seem to follow the arrows – FYI! I guess the best thing is that we can afford it. I’m giving to our local food bank, hoping that will be okay.

  16. Judy Curtiss says:

    Since I look at grocery shopping as one of those “things I really don’t enjoy”, I have found the on-line shopping a joy. Yes, they substitute some items, but I’ve not been disappointed (yet). The best thing is that hubby doesn’t keep putting items in the cart that we really don’t need!

  17. says:

    I totally understand the broken camel‘s back. I ordered cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, and cream of celery soup the other day. I said allow substitutions thinking if they didn’t have Campbell, I would receive Great Value or a generic brand. What did I receive? 3 cans of some kind of beef stew! No more substitutions for me!

    Sent from my iPhone


    • I have my doubts about the intelligence of some of the shoppers. However, I have noticed that sometimes they list substitutions and they are no where near what the product was.

  18. I know exactly how you feel Elsie. I went shopping today, complete with my horrible winter sock mask but I couldn’t wait to the variety of masks heading my way. I do have someone who would shop for me in moment’s notice but I cant… I need to do it myself as long as I’m able. The tension as I read your piece was right with me as I shopped. I filled up the wagon, the fridge as I’ve never done in years. But I’ll need to head back when one of those masks shows up just to celebrate at my Old World market for the specialities… With you!!!!

  19. Leigh Anne Eck says:

    Shopping is becoming such a challenge, but I could not do online shopping – for many reasons. I would be disappointed in the substitutions, too! I am very curious about the bananas though! And they had wipes? Wow, we have been out since the beginning. I agree with Kim, I can see you doing a happy dance!

  20. I can almost seeing you doing a happy dance down the aisles! With all that is changing in our world it is nice to get back to something “normal” (even in an different way) that brings you so much satisfaction!🙂

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