Conversations from a Grocery Run

Leigh Thomas


By Leigh Thomas 



Ever wonder what would happen if you said what you’re really thinking? I’m fresh off a grocery run, and I realized that at some point this process became not mere food shopping, but sort of a conversational obstacle course. Here’s what I’d really like to say:


Walking into the store:

Me: Do not ask me to buy something on every single aisle. I’ve got a list and I’m sticking to it. You can have a cookie in the bakery.

7YO: Mom, can we get … (you name it, on Every. Single. Aisle.)

You’re fired.


Just inside the store:

7YO: Mom, I can push the buggy.

Seriously? I just love to have my feet run over while wearing flops.


At the customer service desk:

Clerk: May I help you?

Me: I’d like to buy a lottery ticket, please.

Clerk: Here you go. Good luck!

I have zero chance of winning. It just makes me feel like I’m being proactive about my future.


At the deli counter:

Me: I need a half pound of Black Forest ham, please.

Clerk: Would you like a sample while you wait?

Me: Sure, thanks.

7YO: I want half!

4YO: I want the other half!

Of course I was kidding when I said I wanted some. Moms don’t eat.

In the bakery:

Clerk: Would your children like a cookie?

In seven years no one has asked me if I would like a cookie. Moms like free samples, too, and not just deli meat. Total Wine has caught on to this notion; perhaps you should too.


In the meat department:

Older Gentleman I Don’t Know: Ma’am, did you have blueberries in your cart?

(4YO has confiscated the blueberries and dropped what seems like a bushel all over the floor, which have been crushed by my wheels. Older Gentleman smirks and moves on.)

I don’t know these children. They seem to have hijacked my cart. 


Mid-way through the store:

4YO: Mom, I gotta go potty.

Oh. My. God. How far can I push this without needing clean-up on aisle 7?


On the dairy aisle:

Elderly Lady Pushing Free Samples: Would your children like to try some of this yogurt? It’s really good for kids! My grandchildren just love it.

Lady, that yogurt is made from Red 40 and Yellow 5 and 39 grams of sugar, which clearly my children don’t need. They will devour your sample like they’ve never seen food before, and then I’ll have to make up a nice reason to say in front of you why I’m not using your coupon to buy more.


At checkout:

7YO: (Pointing to the gumball/toy machines) Mom, do you have a quarter?

I can’t afford gum; I have you. And if one more $@!!&* bouncy ball enters my house and bounces off my ceiling, I will snap.


At checkout:

Bag Boy: Would your children like a balloon?

I am not taking home one more damn balloon, which tomorrow will be a sad, deflated wad of latex that they’ll cry over when it goes in the trash.


Still. At. Checkout.:

Clerk: Ma’am, I forgot to run these coupons, but if you just go over to the customer service desk they’ll be happy to cash them out for you.

(Ironically I’m back here at customer service where I bought my lottery ticket, debating the merits of screaming versus bursting into tears.)


Thankfully I’ve learned how to handle family-style grocery shopping with a little more grace than the voice inside my head. Every now and then I just have to let her out for a little while.



Leigh Thomas is a Columbia-area wife, mom of two, runner and communications professional. Because that affords her so much spare time, she also pursues freelance writing and editing. Visit her blog, Literalleigh, at or on Facebook at




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