Is This You? Playing 52 pickup in the produce aisle | NevadaAppeal.com

Is This You? Playing 52 pickup in the produce aisle

Trina Machacek

It took years of listening to those close to me to learn the type of lettuce I bought wasn't the best. "No flavor," "rots too fast," and just plain "yuck," I was lovingly told. It was suggested I buy one of those packs of hearts of romaine lettuce to see the difference.

It tastes like … well … it tastes like lettuce to me. I apparently don't have a discerning enough palette to differentiate the delicate differences of lettuces. But to keep "peace in the valley," I now buy the packages of hearts of romaine lettuce. Big deal, huh? Not really, but here, as per my usual, is the rest of this saga.

We zipped 242 miles to Reno for appointments and on our way home we picked up a load of groceries. Shop, shop, shopping we went.

I start in the back of grocery stores. I have learned even though the produce is up front, I don't have to get my produce first. If I start in the front, when I get done shopping I find the tomatoes have gotten run over by the canned corn, or kicked around by a grumpy box of rice. Anyway.

Just as a side, how lucky are we that we live in a time and in a country where we can buy a watermelon in December? Or corn on the cob in February? Lucky Louies is what we are. Munching on celery. Let's move along.

After picking over the melons and aforementioned tomatoes, the last things on my list were the hearts of romaine lettuce. To my surprise, this store that touts having everything anyone would ever need was out of lettuce. All lettuce. Not a fresh leaf to be had. Well, my other half chased down a produce guy, seriously chased him down clear into the back room. Why is it the "back room" seems to be a place of mystery?

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"No fresh lettuce today," the guy reports. He did point out a few old, much-handled packages of organic overly-rust-spotted lettuce. I passed on the overpriced "organic" has-beens. Deciding instead on stopping at a second store on the way out of town and picking up a few packages of the obnoxious lettuce.

At the second store my other half decided he had enough shopping, so I zipped in alone to grab the lettuce — and there's where it happened.

I'm standing at the array of lettuce. Apparently this store got all the lettuce delivery that day because it had a mountain of lettuce. Head, butter, green leaf, red leaf, arugula and the ever elusive packages of three stalks of hearts of romaine. Since I was only going to get the lettuce I didn't opt for a cart as I came in the door, poor choice as it turns out. I grabbed three packages of the green stuff and as I turned to head for the front I remembered this store is a club store and I would need my club card at the checkout.

I have in the past been caught at the checkout counter trying feverishly to find this store's card. I don't frequently shop here, so the card isn't used enough to garner a top slot in my wallet. So I decided to find it first, while in the produce department and out of the sight of a clerk who's coolly waiting for me to produce a card that will give me the "special" price offered, but only to those who are members of this store's free-to-join club!

Holding three slick packages of lettuce, I started the treasure hunt. Then it happened. All the buyers' club cards I have accumulated over the years slipped out of the buyers' club card holder I carry them all in. They went skittering across the floor in the produce department. And there I am. My life in club cards laid there in a line from the avocados to the zucchini. Ah, geeze. Of course I looked around to see if anyone was staring. Alone, whew!

Like picking up a deck of cards after someone flicked them in playing 52 pickup, I decided I have become a club card hoarder. Grocery stores, clothing stores, box stores, hotels, airlines, car rental, home improvement, restaurants. In stores, online, by mail — "Use me!" they all seem to be screaming.

I bought the lettuce — with the card — saved 10 cents and left my dignity in the produce department.

I have to admit, though, it isn't all bad to join a club. I once bought enough Diet Coke over six months to earn enough points to get a free cruise. Choose your clubs wisely.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at itybytrina@yahoo.com.

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