A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 26: Canvas Totes of Woe

July 22nd · 5 Comments

I have exited Trader Joe’s and waded into the hurly-burly of 14th Street before I realize the scope of my blunder. My reach – for six bottles of beer, a can of black beans, a 12er of jumbo eggs – has exceeded my grasp. How the hell will I get all this home?

I pick up the bags, about 110 pounds of groceries, and set them down again. Yellow taxis are coursing by and tempting me. Step in, however, and by 35th Street I will have erased the savings I earned by shopping at Trader Joe’s in the first place.

I clutch my tons of totes and struggle toward the subway entrance. “Don’t you hate that?” asks a sympathetic woman in a ponytail, walking in my direction with two (enviably small) sacks of produce.

“Yes! You want to get everything at the same time, so you don’t have to come back.”

I descend into the 14th Street station. The air is shockingly hot. A Korean man with an electric saxophone is playing a version of “Edelweiss” so slow and maudlin that I want to back away, but I can’t be bothered. The train rolls in and my groceries spread out into the corridor. They obstruct the path of a black man in a wheelchair, with skinny arms and a grotesquely swollen foot. He parks next to me, incanting in a raspy voice, “I got hit by a car … I only blame myself … any assistance you could give would be appreciated … I hope you all have a beautiful evening.”

I exit at 68th, where a Chinese man is playing some impressive Chopin on the violin, and start the more than half-mile schlep back to my apartment. I pray for red lights. Sinews straining, I dodge past a rotund family of Polish tourists, and finally to the door.

I wipe the perspiration from my brow and heft the bags one by one to the counter. Miraculously, every egg made it. Bananas, unsmooshed. The lettuce, however, was trapped between the bag wall and a jar of caponata. It has been ground to the consistency of pesto.

A token price to pay, really, for such a valuable lesson.

Tags: Sights & Scenes · Urban Survival · Why I Hate This Town

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve // Jul 23, 2008 at 12:49 am

    When do we get to see a picture of you with one of those little tote carts that the old ladies use when they grocery shop 🙂

  • 2 Susan // Jul 23, 2008 at 12:50 am

    How’s the tennis elbow treating you now that you’ve carried all those groceries home, Dave? Maybe you should get one of those cool metal grocery baskets on wheels that you could pull through the subway. Or maybe pony up for the TJ’s delivery service – I hear tell it’s easier on the arms!

    -Susan

  • 3 Sulley // Jul 23, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I guess your lettuce won’t need any Chop’in.

  • 4 Bharath // Jul 26, 2008 at 12:57 am

    I love the fact that you stop to take these priceless pictures.

  • 5 Pat Shea // Jul 27, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    David, haven’t you explored the $10 Trader Joe Delivery? Chrissy buys tons of stuff and has it delivered. Wouldn’t be as challenging though.

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