02 May 2007

Housewife's Lament

The carts are lined up next to each other. Full of expired bags of candy and discontinued toothpaste, they dare me to look at them.

"Come," they say, "fifty percent off, everything in here, everything." And then in a whisper, "some are even seventy-five percent off."

They know what this does to me. I stroll over casually, glancing around to see if anyone is looking judgy, prepared to share a knowing smile that says I don't usually pick through the remaindered items in the stray shopping carts, or the plastic shelves near the employees only bathroom. But I do, usually pick through that is.

This time, two small purple bottles of bubbles catch my eye. Beside them, a hand-drawn sign says, "Bubbles - 19 cent." It should be cents, I think, and pick them up. Put them in the cart.

They are only 19 cents each, 38 cents taken together and still, when the cashier starts to ring up all of my other items, fruits, vegetables, milk, cereal, a $1.49 bag of pretzels, a bottle of soymilk that I have a coupon for and so it's almost free, I think for a minute, do they really need bubbles? Should I put them back? The total rises, steadily, as I watch. With each beep the lead in my stomach condenses.

I didn't used to spend this much on food. I used to be able to get a week's worth of groceries for under $100.00. It wasn't that long ago. Now I hold my breath when the cashier swipes my member card, and as I sign the check, I feel physically ill.

Why does food cost this much? Why does it cost so much just to feed my children, that it would make part of me feel better to deprive them of bubbles? 19 cent bubbles?

2 comments:

Jennifer said...

Get the bubbles!

I think groceries have gone up in price. Our grocery budget has had to be increased because our bill kept getting higher and higher. And we weren't buying any extras.

Stepherz said...

I so agree with you. I too get nervous as the cashier gives me the final number because whatever number I end up with dictates what our next week will look like. Used to be that veggies and healthy foods were cheap to feed your children, but now it is the expensive stuff. So discouraging. Even more discouraging is that I'm aware that NOTHING I buy is hugely healthy for them because of all the chemicals and additives and such. So what exactly AM I paying this much money for?

I do think that grocery prices have risen because of gas prices. They surely are connected. If it cost more to ship the products, we're going to see the price increase, even if only a few cents per item. Those few cents per item add up. It's not as bad as it's probably going to get over the next few years, ya know?