You may not have been paying attention, but The Quaker Oats Man has had some work done. If he has in fact, been a part of the same company since 1877, a tweaking is perfectly understandable. He’s a little bit trimmer, his hair-do a little bit shorter, his shoulders a touch broader. Still outfitted in Quaker garb, he remains my baking oats go-to guy. Mr. Quaker and I are minding our own business, simply trying to proceed through the self checkout line at the neighborhood grocery store. There is a voice instructing me, no, scolding me to scan the item, then place the item in the bag, which I do. I am then
reprimanded, told to place the item back on the belt and scan again. Jeez, I just did that, but I do it again. I’m beginning to get annoyed and trying not to mutter an expletive in the company of my pious oatmeal friend.
I scan, machine beeps, Mr. Quaker settles into the plastic bag. Machine beeps again. And again. Five, six, seven, eight! Scan. Beep. Bag. Repeat. I am having a flashback moment- Ken Malone’s Intro to Tap Class. At long last, a super employee from this super market arrives. She scans a mysterious card which has the power to release My Guy Oats from the evil clutches of the self-check. Setting 42 oz. of 100% whole grain goodness in the passenger seat, I proceed to Trader Joe’s to complete my pre-blizzard mission. Big mistake.
I admit, I’m part of the problem, flocking to stock up on non-essentials with the other minions. Don’t worry- I will not fight anyone for a loaf of bread or trample a young allergy-free child for a jar of peanut butter. Just be sure to leave me one container of whole milk, not skim, for my coffee, a 17.6 oz. block of dark chocolate and several bags of white cheddar corn puffs.
It is impossible to determine where one checkout line ends and one begins. I join the line snaking alongside the winter produce running parallel to the freezer cases. There appears to be a snag ahead of me and while I wait, I pluck a bag of frozen berry medley and place it in the wagon, just because. With predictions of 3 feet of snow, you can never have enough pie fixings.
It’s impossible not to overhear the excited children in front of me stating matter-of-factly that there will be an early dismissal tomorrow and a snow day the next. Where’s the fun in that?
Long before Snowmageddon and Polar Vortex, we went to sleep without knowing if school would be cancelled. Monumental decisions could not be made until the light of day. Too excited to sleep, I fought to stay awake, watching the illuminated dial of my Westclox alarm clock inching its way towards dawn.
Schools were listed alphabetically, and in later years by number. If you didn’t tune in to your radio at just the right time, you had to wait until the entire list was repeated. Or wait until out of a sound slumber, you would hear knocking on the bedroom door. My father would kindly wake us up to tell us to go back to sleep. Unless, in a cruel twist of fate, there was merely a delayed opening. On several occasions, when the school bus couldn’t navigate the hilly terrain of our neighborhood my father was all too happy to pile us into the station wagon and drive us to school. Thanks, Dad.
Some children I know (Blondilocks) believed that wearing your pajamas inside out would insure a day off from school. I will have to ask her if that really works. Because when Tuesday’s blizzard turned into what the weather folks ashamedly now refer to as the Fizzard, I felt cheated of my snow day. I want one more morning to sleep in late and enjoy another slice of jumble berry pie in its oatmeal crust.
No such luck. I'm back to work in time to bid January adieu and warm up that carpal tunnel just as February rolls in. Two weeks and counting, until they line up again, for the next holiday. It’s downright despicable. I quake in anticipation.