I’m beginning to understand why people have things delivered. Today I drove DF to work so that I could use the vehicle for the day. I figured I’d do a couple of errands and maybe meet a friend for lunch.
Somehow the errands took over, shaving off slabs of time like a knife on a shawarma spit. It felt as though I spent two hours just getting out of the car and into the stores.
I’d forgotten how much I hate shopping. Real shopping, that is, not the kind I did in Seattle.
My last three years in the Emerald City were car-free: When my daughter and son-in-law moved to Phoenix I realized that I kept the car mostly so she’d have a reliable source of transportation. (She has a chronic illness.)
So I gave them my Chevy Cavalier, asking only that they remember this when they were picking out my nursing home. Once my car headed south I did most errands via shank’s mare, combining the need for exercise with my need to go to the library, the post office or the grocery store.
After church on Sunday my sister would ask if there was anywhere I needed to stop. That didn’t feel like shopping so much as an extension of the chatty lunch we’d just had. We’d talk as I prowled for free-after-rebate items at Walgreens or stocked up on heavier staples at the supermarket.
A cranky consumer
Today was not chatty. It was cheerless. I was alone, since my friend couldn’t make it for lunch. The day seemed made entirely of traffic lights, icy parking lots and snow that came and went – flurries, to be true, but the sky was lowering enough to have turned a few flakes into another foot-high dumping like last weekend’s.
Yep, I missed Seattle today.
It’s not as though that city is a paradise for shoppers. I often walked in drizzle or downpour, and if I weren’t careful I’d get splashed by cars. I’d do just one or two (or no) stops per daily walk, and I rarely bought more than I could carry in my backpack or my two hands. The point is that I could walk: Everything I needed was within a mile or so of my apartment.
In Seattle I didn’t need to spend hours driving from place to place and checking items off a list that seemed to grow a tail. I may have had to leap the occasional puddle but I didn’t need to tiptoe ’cross the ice floe. And I sure didn’t have to trundle seven or eight heavy bags and four 12-packs of Diet Coke into and out of the car, then take many of those items down to a basement.
Jeez, I was cranky. It’s probably a good thing my friend didn’t make it for lunch. Halfway through the entrée she might have run from the building with her hands over her ears.
When I was married I did virtually all the shopping by myself. I can’t remember being this aggravated. Is it that my time is more precious now?
A new experiment
Even so, we agree that picking up milk, meat and apples takes up way too much of a perfectly good Saturday.
“Shopping,” he says, “is a time suck.”
Then again, he remembers when Anchorage had small stores and people walked to them. He also remembers living in rural Alaska, where groceries were delivered once a month – or once a year.
That’s why we’ve decided to make April an experiment: We’re going to shop as little as possible, living instead on all the food in the freezer, cupboards and, yes, the basement.
There’s no chance of deprivation. We’ve got a lot of good food stored away, and we’ll still spend money on fresh stuff like bananas and salad greens. All shopping receipts will go into an envelope so we can add up what we spent.
Cost isn’t the issue, though. The time suck is.