Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Night the Lights Went Out at Fresh Market

I haven't shopped much at the Foody Falooty since Trader Joe's came to town, but a handsome birthday gift card arrived just in time for deadline-weekend fridge stocking.

it looked like this.
No sooner had I filled my rush-hour cart with a variety of precocious artisanal lettuces and free-range eggs freshly hatched by hens who lounge about their coops listening to NPR all day when, without warning, the lights went out. One minute, I'd been musing to myself that $17 seems high for popcorn, the next, we were all plunged into utter darkness.  No generator clicked on reassuringly. Nothing.

My first thought, naturally, was "I've gone blind."
As my eyes adjusted, my second thought was, "light bill?"
My third thought, as my brain caught up to processing the available information, was "what was it the Mayans said? Was that today?"

Soon, they would finish the artisanal cheese, and feast on my flesh
And finally, acceptance. "So. This is how the end comes. Dying with rich folks."  I turned on my iPhone flashlight-app and began reluctantly tweeting pics of potential looters and the coming zombie apocalypse.

I was contemplating my options. Is a proactive approach best? Do I grab the Voss Water bottle from my cart, shatter it against a nearby shelf, and then brandish the shards at my fellow shoppers who have probably not seen as many episodes of Walking Dead (or for that matter, Oz) as I have? I am confident I can take out at least one aisle of soccer moms and a few Junior Leaguers before impromptu alliances are formed.

See the popcorn in my cart? I found out later it had been recalled.
"Shit's about to get real, mthrfckrs!" is the phrase I'm practicing in my head when one of the cashiers announces from somewhere around the front of the store "CASH ONLY!" and somehow wrests open the automatic doors (luckily, before someone heaved a cart through it -- and by someone, I mean me, because claustrophobia is only the tip of my iceberg of phobias). It was at that point, that the moneyed masses scattered as if Martial Law had suddenly been declared, obviously ill equipped to transact such vulgar currency.

Now we were down to survival of the fittest, and a new set of options presented themselves. Aside from the gift card, I think I might have some leftover emergency pool-cash (in case a hot dog presents itself) stashed in a secret pocket of my keychain (I'd left my purse in the car, precisely so it wouldn't be snatched from my buggy while I browsed), but I don't know for sure. I do know I definitely do not have enough on me to cover the contents of my cart. As I try to recall Maslow's Hierarchy of Need and its impact on the social order, I idly wonder if I can gnaw through $437 worth of Ossau-Iraty before the lights come back on.

I'll never know, because it was then that the lines began to move. I survey my prospective purchases and decide that the freshly-hatched-NPR-eggs are the only thing worth potentially dying for, and I sadly abandon the rest.

As shoppers ahead of me struggle to make exact change, a convivial nature, almost Amish, seems to take over. There are no price checks. Everyone's word, and guesstimation, is taken as gospel. When my turn comes, I proffer my two dozens eggs across the counter. "Do you know how much these are?" the cashier chirps. "I know I have five dollars," is my honest answer (and also, I decide on the spot, the title of my upcoming made-for-Lifetime movie).

"Sold," she says sunnily.

As I emerge into the daylight, rubbing my eyes blearily, I think, it could have been worse; it could've been Disco Kroger, with only Velveeta to sustain us. I pause in the parking lot, blinking in the sun -- relieved not to see soldiers swarming the streets --  to post a few final tweets: "