Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bulking Up

Bulking Up
By Allison Adams 06-11-07, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 06-12-07

I’m sure all you Sam’s fans are happy as clams in a thirty-two ounce can now that the new store has opened.

Now you don’t have quite as far to go to buy yourself a hundred-fifty pound bag of kitty litter and a radically discounted set of steel-belted radial tires.

Now you can score a case of eighty assorted mini-quiches without spending eighty minutes on the road.

Like many of you, my parents are professional Sam’s shoppers. They embraced the cost-per-unit shopping system a long time ago.

They speak the language. For them – a trip to Sam’s is pure entertainment.

For me – shopping at Sam’s is stressful.

Once after a routine visit to their local Sam’s, my parents unloaded a number of bulky buys among which was a box that contained a sixty-pound roll of aluminum foil.

They hovered and cooed over that box like it was a new baby.

They thought it would be fun to see how long it would take them to use up all that aluminum foil, so they wrote the purchase date on the box that contained the roll.

That was October of 1982.

For the next 18 years they moved that box from one new house to the next: Houston to Honolulu, Honolulu to St. Petersburg. It was in St. Petersburg that they finally used the last inch of it.

Daddy called me long distance just to tell me that the roll was empty. It was a banner day! They went out to lunch to celebrate.

I am not making this up.

And then on the way home from their aluminum foil depletion luncheon, they stopped at their local Sam’s to buy a new roll, and the game began again.

That was August of 2000.

They’re still wrapping baked potatoes and covering casseroles.

I don’t want to sound morbid or ungrateful, but I fear I may someday my inheritance may include a partially depleted roll of aluminum foil.

Anyway, surely you see my point about their bulk shopping background. They could write a book on the subject. Frankly, I wish they would because I could surely use some guidance.

I seem to lack whatever’s necessary to make a shopping trip to Sam’s amount to anything other than a waste of an hour during which I have decided we really, really, need a case of breaded veal cutlets, a 6-pack of reading glasses, and a backyard cabana.

Last week the kids and I threw caution to the wind and visited the new Sam’s without the benefit of a guidebook.

Getting your bearings is critical to the success of any mission. Immediately upon entering I noticed the new store had a completely different floor plan from the old one, and I panicked.

My kids took one look at my clueless facial expression and scattered like ball bearings on a marble floor.

I was left to go it alone.

My palms were sweaty, but I took hold of the handle on my behemoth shopping buggy – the size of which could easily accommodate an aircraft carrier, with a deeply discounted price – and forged ahead.

For the next forty-five minutes I wandered all over Sam’s creation without putting so much as one iota inside my shopping-cart-that-ate-Tokyo. With time running out and feeling pressure to proceed to the checkout line with SOMETHING, I retraced my steps determined to redeem myself.

In the end when my kids had eaten their way through the store – one food sample table at a time – I anted up sixty-two dollars and some change for a hundred slices of provolone cheese, a double case of Gatorade, a twin-pack of pool floats, and a four-pound bag of jellybeans.

Yes, you heard me – a four-pound bag of jellybeans.

Which brings me to this: some things just shouldn’t be packaged and sold in bulk. Even my parents discovered this early in their bulk-shopping career when they made the mistake of buying a fifteen-pound drum of Jiff.

There is something very wrong about being armed with a knife and up to your elbow inside a vat of peanut butter.

Anyway … I suppose when my pocketbook and I recover I’ll probably give the new Sam’s another go. Maybe in the meantime you pros can offer me some helpful hints.

And, I’ll let you know when my folks use up their roll of aluminum foil. We’ll have a party.

I’ll bring the jellybeans.

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