I like to be organised.
An example of this was the weekend before last when I got some firewood in for next winter.
Gone are the days when my body would sneer at the suggestion shifting seven metres of radiata pine so Mrs P could get the car in the driveway would be too tough a task to fit in on a single afternoon.
From what I recall, back in the day getting a good sweat on over a couple or three hours was just something you did before you mowed the lawns. So not exactly a doddle but all part of a good day’s work.
Now I’m happy just to pace myself and pick off four or seven barrowloads before tea over a few days, depending on my enthusiasm, and hope the arthritis doesn’t flare too much or that dicky knee that’s been giving me so much trouble lately doesn’t decide to go in a different direction while I’m working.
So, imagine then, last Thursday morning when I found my driveway free of the last remnants of a truck load of firewood ahead of schedule. I had it all neatly stacked away in the purpose-built lean-to I stuck on at the back of the garage. Good air flow. Easy access. Just perfect.
I was quite chuffed, to put it mildly.
The big bonus, however, was my body was surprisingly in okay enough shape I felt I could tick another item off the Pre-Christmas To Do list.
It was relatively early in the day so I figured the lawns could wait till later and I would go do the Christmas grocery shop.
Yes, it would be a little earlier than usual – in time of both day and month - but I figured I could go get the majority of it and if I needed anything else closer to the big day I could just whip in and grab it.
I soon found myself in the supermarket carpark with a frown worsening with every step inside the actual building.
Where there was usually multiple rows of trolleys waiting for eager shoppers, today there was a solitary row with perhaps 20 trolleys left.
So, by way of quick explanation to the uninitiated who are perhaps not regular shoppers, this means there are already 6579 trolleys (exaggerated approximation to make a point) in use.
This means the supermarket is busy. Very busy, in fact. Full of people with the same idea as me. Get the Christmas grocery shopping done early and quickly.
Part of me wanted to cut and run, but not 15 minutes earlier, practically wetting herself with excitement over my enthusiasm, Mrs P had hurriedly put together a shopping list and bundled me out the door. I did not feel I could disappoint her.
She wished me bon voyage with a reminder to make sure I bought her a cucumber.
Now, I mention that particular item from the long list of supplies she requested because it plays an important part in today’s yarn. So keep it in mind.
But I digress.
So, I grab a trolley and in I go.
With great agility and skill I manage to manoeuvre the trolley through the throng in the fruit and veg section. Grabbing items as I go. Broccoli. Bananas. Carrots. Silverbeet. Pumpkin. Apples. All find their way into the trolley as I glide by. And right at the end I grab a single, nice long cucumber. As requested.
The rest of the shop goes off quite well.
Sure, there are a million people milling around but I’ve got a system. Keep moving. If you stop you’ll get caught in the crowd. Aim for the space in the aisles and grab what you need as you fly past. If you have to go back to get something so be it. Just keep moving.
Luckily my body (and more particularly that dicky knee) is playing along today and before I know it I’m filling the trolley quite speedily, even if I am probably covering twice as much in terms as kilometres than my fellow shoppers who appear to be crawling along at a snail’s pace.
Eventually I get out to near the checkouts and I have time to check my list. Line after line is crossed off until only one item is left. Chicken breast.
I recalled going past it right near the start of this adventure and giving it a miss because there was a large crowd hanging around.
Now I’ve got no choice. I have to go back. Luckily there’s a gap and I can get close. I leave the trolley across the aisle, facing the right way and poised for a quick getaway.
I see the chicken is on special – hence the big crowd around it earlier – so I grab a few extra packets, head back across the aisle, throw it in the trolley and race off.
If I’m honest, I’m pretty pleased with myself as I enter the checkouts and start loading my shopping onto the conveyor belt. It has all gone swimmingly.
Carrots. Silverbeet. Pumpkin. It all gets loaded. No worries. But then I put up a Christmas pudding. Odd, I thought, I don’t recall picking that up. I’m still puzzling over it as I start loading the cucumber.
Hmm. Something not quite right here. There are eight of them. Yep. That’s right. Eight.
Now I could prattle on endlessly about what happened next. Let’s just say a stressed checkout operator, an impatient queue of customers about a mile and a half long behind me and an equally tired and irritable checkout supervisor did not make for an easy explanation or solution.
Eventually I managed to get across that somehow I’d taken someone else’s trolley by mistake, probably while I was getting the chicken. No, I didn’t actually want any of the groceries in it even if I had put half of them through the till. And I certainly didn’t want eight cucumbers.
Thankfully, the error message eventually got through and I was permitted to leave the trolley off to the side and return in search of my own one as the flustered staff tried to work out their next move.
Wearily I trudged back to see if my trolley, with all my shopping, was still there right where I’d left it. Or at least next to right where I thought I’d left it.
Miraculously it was. Even more miraculously there was a gap in the slow-moving crowd when I got there so I was able to nab a couple or three packets of the chicken on special and head back to the checkouts to repeat the end process all over.
By the time I got home and had carted all the groceries inside I’d had enough. And my dicky knee was getting a bit sore.
I started to explain the tale to Mrs P as she scanned the lengthy sales docket.
As I set the scene, she cut me off mid-sentence upon discovering a certain bargain.
“Wow. Cucumbers were only $1.99,” she said. “You should have got me three or four.”