And I don't know why I even opened my pint-size fridge -- I knew what was coming. As I peered into the chilly white cube I felt tears well up in my glassy eyes. When I needed the chips'n'salsa gods the most, they had abandoned me, leaving in their place half-a-carton of week-old blueberries, half a bottle of syrup and a jar of reduced-fat mayo (I clearly don't cook.).
I probably stared at those three items for three minutes willing them to become a bag of Tostitos restaurant-style white corn tortilla chips, a jar of Newman’s Own medium chunky salsa and a Cherry Coke Zero (if only I was getting paid for this product placement), but deep down I knew all the willing in the world wouldn't save me from my fate. I couldn't put it off any longer; I had to go to my neighborhood Giant supermarket.
NOOOOOOOOOOO! The humanity!
Of all the hells I've seen (and I've seen many here in DC), the Columbia Heights Giant on a Sunday is one of the worst. And with the U.S. American Super Cup football match about to begin, I could only imagine that this Giant on this Sunday would by far surpass Dante's ninth circle. Honestly, the devil himself is not even stupid enough to step foot in this hell that the creator of hells one through nine never dared to imagine. But my fate was already sealed. It was either moldy blueberries au syrup and mayo or I would absolutely have to travel to the darkest of darksides. And so began Canto XXXV.
I waited until 7:30 pm, trying to avoid the football match rush, to begin my epic journey. I sensed something strange on the streets as I made my way toward 14th Street. It was surreally empty, quiet and even less smelly than normal. I smiled to myself thinking I had pulled a proverbial fast one on the Prince of Darkness.
But I should've known the Monarch of Hell would have the last LOL. As soon as I entered the second set of sliding glass doors, I looked to my right and saw what no shopper should ever have to see -- an endless sea of like-minded individuals who probably went through the same exact thought process that I had in trying to avoid the earlier big-football-match-going crowd.
But I'm no quitter, so I stuck to my plan. I was not going to let Beelzebub win -- at least not without a fight. I made my way to the ransacked chips'n'salsa'n'soda aisle. It was on. I grabbed my Tostitos, my Newman's Own and the very last Cherry Coke Zero and headed for one of only two open express checkout lanes. The lines extended nearly halfway down the length of an aisle; there must have been 20 people in front of me. I trembled slightly. Was it from lack of food or sleep? Or was it the devil's icy clutches nearing my neck?!? Eh...probably the first reason.
I jumped out of the express line and into a shorter non-express line toward the exit. Despite the four overflowing carts in front of me, I figured there was no way this line would be slower than the, um, hellishly long express lines. And so I waited...and waited...and waited...
Ten minutes must have passed yet no one moved forward. I looked toward the front of the line. It was an elderly couple sorting through their coupons. The checkout lady looked confused as she took roughly 30 seconds of
After nearly drawing blood from digging my own nails into the palms of my hands trying hard not to punch the two elderly people in their faces (was this my very own Giant stigmata?!), I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I finally saw the two penny-pinching old people grab their items and go. Hallelujah! The line pressed forward. But almost as soon as I moved those three precious feet, the next 10-minute hold-up began only to be followed up three times with other issues.
If it wasn't a coupon issue, it was a debit card issue. (Sidebar: How do you not know your own damn PIN?!) If it wasn't a debit card issue, it was a bagging issue. (Sidebar: Plastic in paper in plastic, really?) And if it wasn't a bagging issue, it was an all-around incompetence issue. (Sidebar: Must you stop doing your goddamn job of scanning and packing my three effing items to have a five minute conversation about nothing with another checker?!)
Honestly, the Columbia Heights Giant blows my mind in its backwardness. I don't have a business degree or anything but I think that when effing Kyrgyz grocery stores are cleaner, better stocked and more efficiently run than one of the largest chain grocery stores in the Capital of the Free World, it might be time to reconfigure your operation or at least make my shopping experience less burdensome and scary than a place where Judas, Brutus and Cassius are getting eternally chewed by a triple-faced Lucifer. Just sayin’...
By the way, when I finally made it home (nearly an hour-and-a-half later!) from this epic odyssey, I was too tired to eat. The devil may have won this time, but I will get the last three words: "Suck it, Giant."