The days around here have been as long as the humidity level is high. Friday was a particularly long day that had me holding on to the edge of my sanity by a very very worn thread. As soon as the toddler was down for his nap, I left Pip (very responsible 11 year old) at the helm with an ear out for said toddler, snagged Hopper and ran to the store to get provisions for dinner. Hopper and I grabbed what we needed and on the way to the register I spotted a classy display of markdown wine (classy meaning empty cart with a dozen or so bottles and hand written signage).
I stopped and eyed the wine. Financially things have been very tight. We don’t do extra – any extra. I rarely drink and even more rarely do I splurge on myself. I picked up a bottle. It said velvety, it said “sustainably harvested”. Considering the day I’d had, the night I was likely going to have, and the inexpensive price, I was sold.
Fast forward and I’m wrapping up dinner. The kids are stir crazy, hyper. I feel like a bloated, sweaty nanny. I remember my wine and get really excited at the prospect of pouring a glass once they’re nestled all snug in their beds and visions of fermented grapes dance in my head. Then it hits me. Where is the wine?
I knew immediately. There was no wine. I left it at the store. My bag had a deceptive heft and shape thanks to the dozen eggs I also bought and I thought the wine was in there. I didn’t notice it was missing , though I had a niggling feeling I didn’t remove enough things from my bag when I got home. Damn it to hell.
I consider my options. It’s 7:00 pm. The man not only worked all day, he went to a class that started at 6 (which he let me know about at 4pm, ahem) so I wasn’t sure when he’d be home. I could have him go out when he gets home, but that could be late. I could leave Pip with the very awake and very busy Mack and take Hopper to the store with me. Or I could haul all 3 kids out in the pouring rain for my wine.
Taking into account that Mack is too much for me most days, I chose the last. We pile into the car and I think “I’ll just park out front, the service desk is right by the door, I’ll run in and run right back out.” Thinking error #1.
I pull into the half full lot, rain coming down in sheets, me in flip flops. Thinking error #2.
I park in the fire lane right near the door. Leaving the kids in the car, I jog the few steps to the door, the service desk is empty. The sign says “Go to the #9 checkout” (which adjoins to the service desk). Okay fine, still fine. No problem. My wine will be sitting in it’s bag, waiting, maybe a little sad I forgot it earlier, but it will forgive me and we’ll be fine. Just fine. Thinking error #3.
The line is frustratingly long at the check out and the guys in front of me need something that takes the clerk, who I know from previous experience is slightly daft, forever to figure out. I try relaxing, but I really don’t like leaving the kids in the car this long, alone. I can see the car, I’m sure everyone is happy happy happy in there, but it’s not ideal.
When it’s my turn, I hand the genius my receipt, tell him what happened and he looks at me like a deer in headlights. Then he calls over a senior employee, a very helpful, bouncy older lady who I know from experience is very quick on her feet. Relieved, I think she’s going to get it done and me and my wine and my three kids and my wet feet will be on my way. Thinking error #4.
She beckons me to come over to the little manager kiosk up front while she figures it out. On my way there, I overhear a round, balding fellow ask the genius cashier if he’s the manager. He tells him no, but does he need one? Then the round balding man says:
“There’s a car parked in the fire lane with three kids inside by themselves”.
Oh fucking hell.
Instead of following the senior cashier to her kiosk, I nonchalantly beat feet out the door and jump in the car. I throw the car in drive and zip over to the other side of the parking lot. I briefly explain to the kids why I’m dragging them out in the pouring rain at which time, Pip tells me there was a man who looked right in the car and made a really crazy face, like this, and then he proceeded to bug out his eyes and drop his jaw so his mouth was gaping. Great.
I’m praying that: 1. he didn’t write my license plate down because clearly he was horrified by my behavior and probably would see no problem calling the police, CPS, or both. In fact, he seemed so disturbed, I’m not sure why he didn’t just call 911 in the first place. 2. that the cashier didn’t notice I was missing. 3. that I could just get my fucking wine and go home because if I didn’t want it before, I really really wanted it now.
We slog into the store, after Hopper insists she must put on her sweatshirt so she doesn’t get wet. I have no time or patience for almost 7-year old logic.
“Are you the wine person?” the cashier says to me as I stroll in with my three, dripping wet children. I nod, the wine person, dear god.
She looks all through her bins, which apparently contain the detritus left by other absent minded customers like myself. It has to be there somewhere, right? Final Thinking Error. It’s not there.
She leaves me standing there with my three, wiggling kids who for some reason keep wanting to talk about my social infraction of leaving them in the car without proper supervision. I plead with them several times, in a low, hissed growl, to please please please stop talking about it, we can talk about it as much as we want when we get in the car.
I’m sure someone is going to figure out I’m “that lady” who left her kids alone in the car in the fire lane.
I’m sure that guy is going to come around the corner any time and tap me on the shoulder and give me a piece of his mind.
If I hadn’t been so wiped out, I might have told him it was my car and to mind his own business, but I just didn’t have it in me. And I definitely didn’t have it in me to get scolded in public by a stranger.
Finally she talks to the ‘night manager’, finally she got me my wine, and finally we can go home. However, I must first endure her letting me know, several times, that the rules about alcohol are very very strict and they are not supposed to replace alcohol but for whatever magic the Universe has bestowed upon me (perhaps the creases in my forehead and my chatty, busy children?), the ‘night manager’ has agreed to allow it. All in all I basically got put in my place for wanting something I bought earlier but simply left at the register. Thanks for making me feel like a wino.
She bagged my wine, wrote a dissertation on my receipt which I assured her I no longer needed, and we left. I was certain I was going to get jumped by the rotund, balding guy in the lot and I scanned around as we walked, convinced he was at the very least watching me. I saw nothing but lights bouncing off the rain soaked pavement and the faces of my beautiful children as they shone in the promise of a velvety, sustainably harvested, hard won glass of wine when I got home.