Mother went to the grocery store just once a week with $30.00. She did not know how to budget and never had a list so this meant at checkout time it could be awkward.
She went up and down the aisles in no hurry and then would backtrack because she may have missed some exotic ingredient she read about in Good Housekeeping magazine. Mother always had dreams of making that special dish featured on the cover but like other aspects of her life she never got around to it.
It seemed she never knew what the menu was for the next meal and that was true. It was not the element of surprise but more like the element of disaster.
Mother made sure that whatever special treats she wanted were in the cart. My sister and I were not asked what we might like and so we always wondered what we would be eating for the week.
As we approached the dreaded checkout lane, we knew she would not have enough money to buy everything in the cart. Thus began the bargaining game with the clerk. Mother would say:
Put back the toilet paper and soap and let’s see if I have enough cash.
It was never Mother’s responsibility to figure this out but the clerk’s. She kept the creamy Bismarck Puffs with zero nutritional value but returned the necessary items like soap and toilet paper.
The worst was if the sacker was one of our classmates or neighbors. As you might imagine, we stopped going to the store with Mother due to her inability to add two and two.