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Suburban Island

Honest Grocery Shopping
Monday, Jul. 21, 2003, 9:19 p.m.

QUESTION: What's milk without cookies?

WHAT I LEARNED: Honest is the best policy.

A couple of weeks ago, before I headed out to the Emerald City, I was doing some evening grocery shopping when I had one of those moments in life that seems small but really is bigger than it looks. A cookie sheet and a checkout counter were at the center of what Dr. Laura might aptly call my moral dilemma – puny as it might be in the grand scheme of things.

Weekday evening grocery shopping is different than Saturday morning grocery shopping or evening Sunday afternoon grocery shopping. Weekday evening shopping is like a last minute play at organized living. It is squeezed in at some awkward dangling corner of the day that is likely denying exhaustion and driven by the image of an empty cupboard. It may occur because you crave ice cream, or ran out of cheese, or drank the last can of diet coke.

You might make a list. I do. If not, I dawdle down the aisles purchasing what I want like I’m storing up goods for a long winter spell only to discover upon arriving home and opening up the refrigerator that I forget the damn milk and the only loaf of bread in the house is looking a bit green around the gills.

Besides, I don’t want the kids to sustain any permanent psychological damage based on my inability to stock the house with Pillsbury chocolate cookie dough in the cut and bake rolls or Pop Secret microwave popcorn – 94% fat free butter flavored version.

So I took my list late one evening and, dragging my feet as I pushed the increasingly heavy cart down the aisles of the store, dropped boxes, cans, bags, and bottles into it as I went. My impulse purchases for the evening were two beautiful new non-stick cookie sheets to replace the two at home which had seen better days. Although a handy excuse for burnt sugar cookies and extended soaking in the kitchen sink which sometimes resulting in someone else washing them up, it was time to put them out to pasture.

When I got up to the cashier, everything began to add up – I had really outdone myself on this shopping excursion. When it came time to ring up the cookie sheets the kid ringing it up swiped it once and put it back in my cart. That gave me two cookie sheets for the price of one. Two for one. It was tempting. I had to think about it for a minute but finally I told the kid that there were two cookie sheets not one.

And although it would be great if he said – for being so honest you get the second one free. He did not. He rang up the second one and I was eight bucks poorer.

A minute later he said – thank you for being honest.

Best eight bucks I ever spent.

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