And for once I was SuperMom

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Running to the store to buy eggs and sugar should not leave you so stressed out that you are almost in tears….
Scott is out of town this weekend, he is coming home tonight. I wanted to plan a special dinner for him. I hemmed and hawed on this decision all week long. I had a bottle of red wine. Pasta goes great with red wine. But we also had all these ingredients to make quiche. Also suitable with wine. Decided to do quiche because I didn’t need to buy anything for quiche. I had my houseworker make said quiche, and through no fault of her own the crust didn’t bake leaving the bottom soggy and inedible. You can scrape it off and it’s just fine, but that is not something you serve to someone who just came off the mountain. So off to Village Market I go for pasta ingredients.
I collect my plastic chip at the gated entrance to the shopping complex and begin to turn the corner into the lot. A huge SUV comes raring around the corner, not only is it on my side of the road, it’s driving in the parking spaces on my side of the road. I honk as I swerve out of his way and quickly downshift. The man has the audacity to honk back.
I recover my breath and continue driving. I honk at another car as it starts to back out while I am right in back of it. I make the slow painful circumference of the parking lot and find a space. I pull Emma out and put her in the Bjorn then march into the complex with my back already gathering up into knots.
Nakumatt has most of the things I need, I pass on purchasing imported honey at seven dollars. I stop by the chocolate aisle on my way to the cash register for a nice bar of dark chocolate (our favorite dessert). The Czech Republic kind that we love, that’s not too expensive, is out of stock. So I look for the South African brand that is a close passable second. Also out of stock. There is a large bar in a beautiful package that I have not seen before, I flip it over, I can’t tell where it’s from but all the different European languages let me know that it’s probably from that continent. It looks good, but you never know. It’s four dollars for 200 grams. Do I risk it? It’s a special night. But I’ve already bought cheese and wine this week. I scan the whole aisle, to purchase or not? After several minutes of deliberation I choose not to, and grab our favorite cheap Cadbury alternatives.
I have the talent for choosing the slowest line. In Kenya this is lethal. The American looking elderly world traveler gentleman type paying at the register is carefully counting out about ten smooth perfect Kenyan shilling 1000 marks. They are carefully fanned out in front of the clerk one after another. As he lays each bill down I hear a whisper. As I wait not so patiently Emma begins to fuss, ever so lightly. I dance about and start to pile groceries on the belt. My total comes to 1634 Kenyan shillings, almost exactly twenty dollars. Historically credit cards can take forever and can clog up the system. I quickly count out my cash. Ksh 1600. I take a deep sigh and hand over my Visa. It goes through quickly, I struggle to sign with one hand, grab my bags and am on my way.
As I leave the building I walk in back of another SUV that is illegally parked right in front. It starts to back up right as I am in back of him. Fortunately he stops quickly, but still scares me enough that I snap. I walk up to the driver side,
“You almost just ran me over!” I snap pointing at the back of his car. The forty year old looking man startles and laughs nervously,
“Oh sorry.” Sorry is really not good enough. I storm off to my car, with the knots in my back now reverberating with stress and fear.
On my way home I end up behind a van that is driving 6 mph, when it goes over the speed bumps in front of the US Embassy it slows to 1 mph. We get to the end of the road I am silently praying he turns the other way. Nope he turns a very slow right, and stays right in front of me. He is back up to 6 mph, he then slows and puts on his blinker. Nope, changes his mind. A half mile later, he again puts on his blinker. I take the opportunity to pass. I honk and throw up my hands as I go. Another bewildered looking forty-something year old man.
I steam all the way home. Why is this so hard? Why is just going to the store a stressful experience? I pull into my compound and park in our rocky dirt parking lot. I get out and open the back door to unpack my kid. The car seat is hanging on at a forty-five degree angle. Emma looks up at me with a look that says, ‘mom, I don’t think it’s supposed to do this.’ I sigh, amid all my angry driving I did this. I pull her out (at least the seat strap worked) and look at the base. The little plastic slidey clasp thing on the center seat belt that is supposed to be holding the base down is sliding around uselessly. It’s impossible to cinch it back down and have it stay.*
It’s those moments that kill me, when I get so caught in frustration and anger that I forget what really matters. Yes, the driving I encounter here is dangerous and my tolerance for it has disappeared, but is it worth it?

*Emma now rides behind the driver where the seat belt works.

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