I really should make this two posts because what does grocery culture have to do with Cody but if I took the time to write two posts I probably wouldn’t finish the second one. So I’m going to jam it all together and hopefully, you feel like you’re getting a deal. Two posts for the price of one! I know. Whatever Brenda. Just get to it already.
Every hour on the hour when I’m working as a courtesy clerk at Ralphs I push a broom around the floor, up and down every aisle. It takes me about sixteen minutes to sweep the entire store. I’m pretty much just pushing dirt around the store with a big wide broom that takes turns surprisingly well. It’s kind of fun actually and I pride myself on my efficiency in keeping the small pile of debris relatively under control. Sometimes I lose a bit in the turns but I know I’ll be back the next hour like a cuckoo clock to catch it again.
I compose blog posts in my mind as I go. I think maybe I’ll blog about that dinosaur sticker that is stuck to the floor in the deli section that has been stuck there for two weeks. Or maybe I’ll blog about the morning stocking crew and their lively choices of music. I love it. It’s a party in the early morning hours at the grocery store. One aisle is rocking 80’s power ballads while the next is jamming to R&B. Everyone says good morning and hello as I pass by them in the aisles, dodging towering piles of toilet paper or teetering boxes of cans that are stacked up to be unloaded. It’s just a lively bunch.
I also think about blogging about the state of the linoleum floor that is breaking into bits. Every day I sweep another inch away into the trash can. The floors are a mess. Does anyone notice? What’s the state of the grocery store’s budget for repairing these things? The store seems to be run pretty lean and there are a ton of improvements needed but nobody ever says anything about them. But I never ask either because we are all overworked and no one has time for such questions. It’s always a state of either being slammed or “if you have time to lean you better clean.” Everything needs cleaning all the time.
I love the grocery store. One of the rules of being employed there is that you have to smile and say hello to everyone. At first, I hated it because I’m naturally shy and I never want to be that overly chipper person annoying people. But then I learned about the secret shopper system and if you don’t say hi to the person who is the secret shopper you can get docked and the whole team loses their rights to a pizza party or something. It’s a big deal. So we all say hi all the time. We say hello, good morning, how are you… We’re just a chatty bunch. And you know what happens? It rubs off on you. You can go to the store in a bad mood but after an hour of saying hello over and over with a smile, you start feeling genuinely cheerful. By the time I leave my shift I’m the chattiest person there. And I kind of love it because all the conversations are short and funny. There’s no prying into deeper personal matters. No gossip. Just friendly hellos and funny quips all day long. The grocery business is onto something.
I don’t know who the secret shopper is but I’m dying to find out if I’ve ever said hello to them. I’m pretty sure I’m not the one who gets the pizza party privilege taken away.
In other news: Cody came to live with me! Payam was getting a little overwhelmed with having two dogs. Cody can eat a lot AND he has so much fur. He’s a lot of work. I’ve missed my dogs terribly and I know they miss me too so when Payam asked me to take Cody I was super happy to oblige. I was a little worried my apartment complex wouldn’t allow a big dog like Cody but after some investigation, we were approved! Don’t ask me about the pet deposit though. It’s robbery. I guess they know a big dog can do some big damage to a small apartment.
So far the hair is manageable. I bought a new special pet-approved vacuum and we’re doing our best to keep his paws clean when he comes in from a walk. I don’t think I’ll keep my white carpets white but on the upside, it is awfully cheery to have a big fluffy white dog to keep you company all day long. I might as well buy stock in a lint roller company and call it a win.
We love having him and I think he loves being here. He really is a good only dog and I hear Whiskey is living it up being an only dog too.
Before I can blog about the amazing sweet-sixteen trip to Seattle, I must blog about the incredible but sadly truncated adventure to a cabin in the snow. It was a doozy. Not all bad but definitely one for the books.
The thing about booking a cabin for a winter holiday is that you need to reserve it well in advance. Summer is best. August at the latest because all the cabins that allow dogs get booked up pretty quick and for me, going with dogs is the WHOLE REASON I go to the snow. Have you seen my dogs in the snow? It’s a sight of pure joy. When I booked this cabin I had no idea it would be in the middle of a storm. How could I? I mean, I know it’s always a possibility, I’ve just been lucky before.
We watched the weather patterns feverishly as our trip drew near. It was the talk of the table during our Christmas dinner. Providently there was a break in the weather in the early hours of the day of our trip. We weren’t supposed to show up until afternoon but we figured we better get there early to avoid slipping off the side of the mountain in the middle of a storm.
We made it! Well, technically we made it to the road below our cabin. The driveway to our cabin was not plowed and there was no driving up it because it was super steep, even for a 4×4 with chains. That meant we had to park on the road below our cabin and hoof it up a steep hill through the snow for about five hot sweaty minutes. It was not for the faint of heart! I however have been working out regularly for the last three months and it was just a *mere challenge* for me. (humblebragpfbltkjsklt…) My family on the other hand was a bit winded and not too pleased. I shrugged off their complaints and told them they needed to toughen up and enjoy “the snow experience.” Yeah, everybody loves Vacation Brenda, obviously.
Finally, we stumbled into our cabin stamping snow off our feet and shedding layers like they were going out of style. Payam built a roaring fire, I mixed up some hot chocolate and we cuddled up in our cozy pajamas and pretended we were bears about to hibernate. It was all very charming.
That night it snowed and snowed. At first, I loved it. There is nothing like looking up from your cozy bed and seeing snow flurries flying sideways past your window. I’ve never really done that before and it felt magical. Except in the back of my head, I was starting to have this nagging worry about what we were going to do over the next couple of days as the storm continued and we didn’t really have an exit strategy let alone a three days snowed-in strategy.
In the past, I’ve always over-packed and everyone hated me for having to heft boxes of food up and down hills for meals we never cooked because we ended up going into town for pizza or something so I thought I’d be smart this time and pack super light. We packed snacks for the road and leftovers for dinner but that wasn’t going to last us for days and days.
I had noticed that our Airbnb hosts had some frozen vegetables in the freezer so we wouldn’t starve to death or anything but it wasn’t looking good for my picky eaters. But my big fear was how would we get down the mountain if it was really storming? Would we skid off the road on black ice? What about Payam and the fall he had last time? What if we needed to get to the hospital and we were snowed in? You know how anxiety-brain works. I couldn’t get the worries out of my brain.
The next morning I called the Airbnb hosts and asked if we could stay longer in order to wait out the storm. They were reluctant because they had more guests coming right on the heels of our departure. It was a tough spot to be in. Stay and risk being snowed in or go early and sacrifice the fun trip we had planned so many months ago.
I discussed my fears with Payam and sadly he agreed. We better leave early and be safe instead of sorry. Payam and I are true Southern Californians with thin blood and a healthy fear of actual weather. Neither of us had ever put chains on before. We didn’t even have any before this year. I’m so lucky that my dad hunted some down for us just days before we left because sure enough, we needed them.
During a break in the storm Bug and I tracked down the hill and shoveled out our truck from the night’s storm and what the snowplow pushed up against it when they plowed. The truck was buried under a good two or three feet of chunky frozen snow. We hammered and shoveled and dug ourselves out like *super troopers*. It only took a few minutes and then we went back up the hill to start carrying our suitcases and many layers of coats and blankets and dog gear down the hill. We used our host’s sled and it was pretty quick work. Payam rested because he tweaked his knee on a near fall on some black ice. Yes, he did fall again but he’s okay.
Do I feel like an idiot for continuing to try to take my family to the snow? Yes, I do. I do feel defeated. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.
But it wasn’t all sad. We let the dogs out and they loved it like I knew they would.
I made a TikTok or two about the beauty of it all.
The kids took their photos and bragged on their social media. It wasn’t a total loss.
The snow was so pretty and we did really love it. It just wasn’t the trip I had planned. If 2020 and 2021 have taught me anything it’s how to deal with disappointment. I’m still not an expert at handling disappointment but I know it when I see it and this was a good old-fashioned helping of pandemic style disappointment.
We fit in a few more snowball fight photos and then packed it in.
Goodbye snowy mountains.
We weren’t winners at who-gets-to-have-the-best-winter-vacation but we got home safe and alive and nobody slipped off the side of the mountain or drove their truck like a boat into the cars in front of them. We got home safe and sound and just a little bit sad.