On grocery shopping and gassing up.

Yesterday I had to do the most dreaded of household tasks (at least for me), and go grocery shopping. Since my van is in the shop, I took Number One to work, and went on to the grocery store. I figured I'd be in and out in maybe thirty minutes. Easy peasy. Right?

Yeah, not so much.

I get to the store -- our local Aldi store -- and start getting my bags together. Then I realize I have no quarter for the shopping cart. If you don't know what Aldi is, it's a chain of stores that keeps costs low by not having to pay people to wrangle carts out of the parking lot -- you put a quarter into a nifty mechanism on the cart handle, which releases a chain and you're good to go. When you're done, you bring the cart back, put the chain back in and retrieve a quarter.

Well carp. I don't have any cash, or I'd pop into the Big Lots that's in the same shopping center and buy something, thereby getting at least one shiny quarter in change. And I know I'd find something to buy in Big Lots. Which is why my budget won't let me go there very often.

Now, let me tell you that it's hot, I'm wearing clothes that aren't really suited to late summer in North Carolina, and I've just levered my overweight, arthritic self up and out of a 1996 Mazda Protoge. My knees are already yelling at me, and I haven't even gotten into the store yet. Oy.

I would have just given up and gone home, except that we needed groceries and I danged sure wasn't to go shopping on a weekend. shudder

Back in the car I go, heading down the street to the nearest ATM to withdraw some cash. There's no way to get close enough to the machine in said Mazda, so I have to open the door and lean out to reach the buttons so I can go through an unreasonably complicated menu in order to get my own money.

Okay. Now I've got paper money. I need coins. I drive back up the street, bypassing the Aldi store, to a drive through convenience store, where I buy a soft drink (a Sierra Mist, if it matters), and bless me, I actually get two quarters with my change, thus avoiding having to ask the clerk for some.

I drive back down the street to the shopping center, get my bags out and go to free a shopping cart (which I keep wanting to call a buggy) from the corral. Luckily the store is less crowded with lookie-loos than usual, and I make good time filling the cart up.

I actually only stop shopping only because I can't get another thing in the cart. And because the plantar fasciitis in my right foot is killing me. I bag my groceries (another cost-saving point of the store) before heading to the car to load up.

The car is filled to the brim with lovely food, not to mention toilet paper, and I am on my way home. Or so I thought.

Seriously, you didn't think it would be that easy, now, did you?

As I'm driving along, I happen to glance at the fuel indicator. It's sitting on that big E. That's not good. I should mention that we normally get easily 40+ miles per gallon from this car, and technically there was probably enough gas left to go 20 to 30 miles before it actually hit empty.

But I've got $200 worth of food stashed in the car, my cell phone is at home, and I ain't taking no chances. So I head for the closest service station to put some fuel in the tank. I pull in, go inside to pay the cashier, and head back to the car to open the flap over the gas cap so I can get this over with and go home.

And I realize there's no way to manually open it. Arrrgh!

Have I mentioned that in the entire time we've had this car, I've never put gas in it? Paid for gas, yes, but never actually done the job myself. Yeah. This day is getting better all the time.

I lean in to look for a release. Can't find one. At all. I look everywhere I think it makes sense for it to be. I'm getting hotter by the minute, and I'm sure everybody around was looking at the crazy lady talking to herself.

I pull out the owner's manual, and look up where the gas cap release might be located. It's nowhere near where the book indicates it is. Cue more cussing.

I think I forgot to mention that the AC on the car is broken, didn't I? I'm getting so hot, I'm dangerously close to heat stroke, because I don't sweat.

I look around some more. Finally I realize the floor mat is shoved up under the seat, and with a flash of inspiration, pull it out. Sure enough, there is the blasted release lever.

I couldn't help it. I started laughing my ass off, thus giving witnesses more reason to think I've lost my mind.

Getting home to unload and put away the groceries was anti-climatic.  But oh, how good that air conditioning felt!

 There you have it, Gentle Readers, another exciting day in the life of a writer. Keep calm, and stay cool, my friends.