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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Racing for the register

Mike Morin

“Gentlemen, start your engines!” Even though I never actually heard those words, I could swear I was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway while shopping at a local grocery store recently. Just to be sure, I peeked around the banana display for Jeff Gordon. Then I glanced over my shoulder expecting to see Carl Edwards approaching from near the celery. No race cars, just the waving of a green flag signaling for shoppers to run me over at 195 mph.

I learned a valuable lesson on Nov. 17 about 5:30 in the afternoon. Do not and I repeat, DO NOT, do your family grocery shopping on a weekday when people are just getting out of work. Frankly, I’m fortunate to live to tell about it.

You see, Barbara and I were shopping that Thursday for an early Thanksgiving gathering for Saturday the 19th, since we would be in Detroit with my family for last week’s Thanksgiving Day. The earlier date meant we thought we’d beat the expected crush of last minute food shoppers. We were right. Actually, we were right in everybody’s way as they sprinted through the store gathering items for that night’s supper.

Talk about distracted shopping! Roughly half the speeding shoppers had cell phones hunched to their ears while running me over as if I was some kid in driver’s training.

“Check the pantry. Do we need parsley flakes?” Another shouted, “Tell your sister I’ll pick her up from soccer in 45 minutes.”

I began to panic while realizing I was literally standing in the way of frantic working moms who were also racing to collect kids after rounding up dinner. While Lady Baba was busy selecting squash, I cowered in an area that I thought would be low on speeding carriages. I pulled over for a pit stop next to canning jars, hoping Martha Stewart would not be scoring some supplies on a drive-by at breakneck speeds.

Despite playing bumper cars with several Danica Patricks in the soup aisle, everyone was pretty polite. Each shopper was on a mission to get dinner fixings, and all I wanted to do was fill our cart with Thanksgiving essentials at a leisurely pace. I’m pretty sure a few shoppers exceeded posted speed limits, so I found the manager and asked her to station a police officer with a radar gun to catch unlawful carriage operators. Either that, or throw a few caution flags in the canned food aisles, where careening drivers hit shelves willy nilly and never bothered to replace falling stock.

Making things worse, there were only two fresh turkeys and both were less than 20 pounds, which is what we needed to feed our guest list of 12. We finally cleared the checkered flag as we loaded our $160 worth of groceries on to the checkout belt.

We paid the bill and rolled right to victory lane where I drank some milk out of a carton to the enthusiastic applause of fellow shoppers.

Hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5-10 a.m. on “New Hampshire in the Morning” on 95.7 WZID. Contact him at His column runs the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month.