A Day at Central Market

“Ma’am, Ma’am!” she shouted after me. “You didn’t pay!”

I was already out of the store across the street, and well on my merry way, one finger poised on the automatic trunk opener on my key fob.

I had just cleaned off about 1.5 hours worth of time meandering through the high society aisles of organic blueberries, herbs that were still planted, and meat butchered from a cow about 20 miles west of here (probably). My almost-toddler in the cart had enjoyed some good old-fashioned fun himself, tossing nearly every (expensive-a**) thing out of the cart. I had tried to pacify him with water, but when I wasn’t looking, he dumped it into the produce aisle, where I pretended that I was going to clean it up with some baby wipes until the real professional showed up and took charge. I had tried to distract him with the convenient kids play area and slide, but some upstager had peed down it, and now our only toys were $9 heads of endives and 12 perfectly-shaped organic fresh farm eggs.

When we had finally approached the conveyor belt of almost-freedom, Augs pushed his hand as far back in his mouth as he could (new trick), and barfed his gag-reflexed food onto the tile floor and cart. “How silly!” I exclaimed, so that all the other mom’s around would know I was “cool mom.” Inside, I was holding back urching while I wiped up his mess. And there I was, tending to his nastiness while he peers over the cart and watches, when he nonchalantly kicks me in the face…hard. I gently chuckle but don’t look around. If I don’t see anyone watching me, they can’t see me.

We get close enough to the pay pod, and Augs decides he wants to use the fake pen to complete the transaction. Ha ha isn’t this fun until I actually complete the transaction myself, and we are not going to use faux pen anymore. Angered, he pinches me. I grab his little fat hand and say, “we don’t pinch mom.” I dare you to go against a command so authoritative and in charge, America. He looks at me with testing eyes, and leans his little red head towards my hand around his hand, and bares his 8 teeth as he opens wide and debates a miniature bite. He rests his teeth on my arm while I stare at him in disbelief. Meanwhile, impatient lady behind me is unloading groceries at rapid fire speed. I used to be impatient lady, but now I just laugh at her efficiency and assume she has no love in her life.

When I am finally given the receipt, you can imagine my mom joy in exiting the place. I have killed over $200, smell like barf and berries, and have lost my dignity. My mom told me that disciplining rules consist of three things: Control, Consistency, and one other C that she couldn’t remember. I sure hope it wasn’t calm, or courages, or caring, comforting, or classy because so far I’m 0/3.

So as I’m nearly to my car, I hear the sales clerk yell loudly that I have not paid. I have a new audience, an outdoors one, that all peer from behind their carts, car doors, and lunch tables to see what delinquency has taken place.

I yell back, “I did pay!” A notable defense.

I had gone through the whole transaction, and as I tried to explain to her that my son had tried to sign for me with the pen but I took it and did it, and that’s what had upset him so obviously I remember, it didn’t do any good. I approached the store, and she assured me I could leave my cart on the sidewalk and just take care of it “real quick.”

I pull Augie- the rock of 25+ pounds- out of the cart and head indoors, where impatient lady is looking like herself on steroids. I get to the machine, stammer to explain again, and am shown that I still owe money.

But I don’t have my wallet. It’s in the diaper bag, in the cart, which is now rolling backwards to the street. Cue panic! I briskly walk towards the sliding doors, kid on hip, when for the first time in the history of Central Market, the door stops dead at 12 inches open. A malfunction that caused me to cruise my left eyebrow into its metal frame, welt forming immediately. “Ohhhhh,” I can hear from several elderly ladies behind me. Instead of acknowledging the embarrassment, I slide sideways through the vengeful door in time to collect my cart and diaper bag. I pay. I re-leave.

On our second trip back to the car, we run into one of Augie’s friends/mom from music class. She tries to chat, but I let her know we have had a rough patch. She kindly says, “we all have those days!” I smile even though it pains my forehead to do so.

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