As a rule, I avoid the ladies (and occasional gentlemen) who hand out samples in the grocery store. My wife likes to see what they have to offer, but I don’t even like to make eye contact with them.
One summer during college, I worked in a grocery store, often behind the bottle return counter. This was before anyone invented machines to take back all those gross, sticky bottles. Instead, they got handed to me. I had to touch every one of them in order to sort them into the proper bins. With that kind of baggage, is it any wonder that I find the idea of eating anything in the grocery store abhorrent?
So, no, I don’t want to try a sample. It’s probably some unholy combination anyway; hence the need to force it upon unwitting passersby. Even if it could defy the odds and appear somewhat appetizing, I have my grocery store demons to keep my teeth clenched together.
I was appalled, therefore, shopping with my son, to find a sample lady beaming at us expectantly from the end of our aisle. This meant I would have to sacrifice another little piece of my soul in declining the generous offer of a kindly stranger.
Worse was the betrayal I felt at realizing that my boy was pulling me toward the trap, eager to see what treats this woman was offering out of her gingerbread house. I hate it when he acts like his mother’s boy and his mother is nowhere near to deal with the consequences.
Overcome with a rare spell of patience, I concluded that it was not right to make the boy carry the burden of my supermarket baggage. I allowed him to lead me to the sample cart, where his instincts were proven to be uncanny. The lady was doling out cups filled with flavored yogurt made especially for kids.
Through what witchcraft this lady wordlessly reeled him to her, I cannot say. I let him taste a sample, but I stayed very near his side. As sweet and gentle as she appeared, she was still a grocery store sample lady.
My son ate the entire sample. He said he liked it. I was skeptical. This boy eating yogurt? It didn’t seem right. I asked him if he were sure he liked it. He nodded. He really liked it. We should buy some for home.
I asked the proud lady where this magical, child-friendly yogurt was to be found. She pointed toward the opposite corner of the store. Excellent. This would give me a chance to remove the boy from her sphere of influence and question him privately about the yogurt. When the truth came out, we could exit the store yogurt-free, and without Yogurt-Mesmer knowing our deception.
She read my duplicitous soul through my eyes. A knowing smile lit her face. “I happen to have one more four-pack right here,” she said, materializing the item from the amorphous folds of her robe. (Robe, apron, what’s the difference?) My son’s eyes grew bright. Mine darkened. Defeated, I took the package and put it into our cart.
Later that day, when my son asked for a snack, I opened one of his cups of yogurt for him. He took the first spoonful willingly enough, but made an unhappy face at tasting it. The second spoonful took more effort. It was the last. “This stuff is disgusting!” the boy declared. He’s never taken another bite of the concoction. He runs away whenever I mention opening another cup of it for him.
That’s how modern witchcraft works, my friends. No longer does it lure children into candy houses where they are fattened up as dinner entrees. Now it lures them to the sample cart, where Daddy’s money is sucked down the rabbit hole of the retail machine. It’s good to see that even fairy tales are keeping up with the times.
Oh, Scott! I needed a laugh today! Thank you. You’ve brought back memories for me.
Towards the end of my mom’s life, she just couldn’t get out much. Every time I went somewhere, I’d ask her if she’d like to go with me. By this time in her life, she was in a wheelchair and felt as though she was being a bother for me to take her anywhere. If she only knew how much I enjoyed taking her with me places. Anywhere that is except Costco. I would always dread asking her to go with me to Costco, and she always decided to go on those trips. The reason, you ask? Because they have about 50 people in the aisles giving food away. She would love to stop and not only sample everything, she would start a conversation with these people. We would literally be stuck at each station for 10 to 15 minutes.
I’ll never forget, after a 3 hour Costco trip, I asked her why she did that. Her response. “I just love meeting new people and I eat so much there, I don’t need lunch. It’s like going to a buffet.” I still smile when I think about it. Thanks so much for reminding me.
Funny memories of my mother are important to me too. I’m glad I was able to play a part in making you think about these dear recollections. I’m also happy you got a laugh out of the post. That’s what makes it worth the time and effort.
I like to frequent the stores that give away samples of scotch. Also, I knew you when you had hair…..just not that much.
Yes, I’d already begun my slow decline when you met me.
Hahaha!! Oh, poor Scott…I’m sure you’re not the only parent who has had this happen to them.
On a different note, really? You don’t like samples? Oh man, I LOVE when they give out samples! You can literally have an entire meal if you go to the grocery store on the right day.
Trust me. I do it often.
Too many bad memories. Sometimes a stray oder escaping from the stock room will send me into flashbacks. Not really a fine dining experience in my book. Thanks for stopping by, PCC.