When I was two years old pork chops cost $0.83 per pound, flour cost $0.10 per pound, eggs $0.49 a dozen, ground beef $0.31 per pound. In today’s money the pork chops would cost $6.30 per pound and the eggs $3.72 per dozen. However the real cost if you go to the super-market today, according to Mark, is $1.69 for the pork chops and $1.89 for the eggs. Sounds like a bargain to me, not so to Mark.
Before I met Mark I had a simple method for food shopping. I would go to the Winn-Dixie, grab a cart and start at one end of the store by the produce. Slowly moving up and down each aisle in order I would go past every item in the store, taking that which I needed and passing the rest. My final stop was the meat counter where I’d pick out my meat for the week and then go to the checkout and pay. Sale prices and impulse buying meant nothing to me. If I needed it, I bought it, if not, I passed. In Marks words, "That’s crazy".
Mark needs to get everything at the lowest price possible and that includes food. Because of this I am subjected to a weekly trip to ‘Penn-Dutch Foods’ or as I like to call it ‘The United Nations of Ankle Smashers’. Penn-Dutch is the cheapest place I have ever seen to buy food. Their customer base consists mostly of Haitians, French Canadians, Mexicans, various other South and Central Americans, New York Jews, Black Americans and people who seem to be Gypsies or from somewhere in eastern Europe. What they all have in common is that they are ruthless with the shopping carts. Before I figured out how to handle myself with a cart, I routinely had my ankles run into by the other shoppers. Usually the shorter, older, and fatter they were, the harder they hit me. I truly think they have a point system, because after they would hit me and see me wince, they’d talk excitedly to each other in their native gibberish.
Now that we’ve been going there for the past four years I’ve caught on. My first move as I enter with my cart is to slam the others out of my way like carnival bumper cars. After getting through the initial knot of shoppers in the produce section, I park out of the way in front of the whole roasting chickens and wait while skinny Mark weaves in and out, picking up what he needs. From there I repeat that strategy with different parking spots, finally making my move towards the checkout. Now the checkout is another challenge. When you see a short line you move to it quickly. Any hesitation and you get side-swiped and pushed aside by a family of ten with two or three carts over flowing with pigs feet, and other strange meats and produce. By the time you recover and go for the next checkout, a French Canadian will push past you mumbling "Je ne comprends pas l'anglais". Which I believe is French for ‘f**k you’.
Now this next week is the real challenge. Shopping for Thanksgiving.