Episode Twenty – Bread, Eggs, and Milk
Syrup. Real maple syrup dripping over those eggy, milky bites of perfection. Each bite exploding in flavor in your mouth.
Your eyes snap open, the dream visions of French toast fading back into the universe as you blink and acclimate yourself back to the waking world. The radio alarm clock has clicked on beside you and the weatherman is describing the upcoming snowstorm.
Ten to twelve inches in your area. You know what that means.
The dream was correct. It’s French toast time.
You hop out of bed and go straight for your car keys. Sure, you’re still in your pajamas. But everyone else at Market Basket probably will be as well. And you need to get bread, eggs, and milk.
Snow is coming. You need bread, eggs, and milk.
The first flakes are falling as you get into your car and pull out of the driveway. The clouds are gray and hang heavy above you. The snow isn’t sticking yet and it’s just a few flurries for the moment. You have plenty of time.
The parking lot is filled when you get to Market Basket. You do a few laps of the lot, waiting for someone to pull out. But despite the people walking in, nobody seems to be walking out. Every parking space is filled, as are the spaces at the ends of the lot and the Old Navy lot beside it. Even the mulch filled islands amidst the concrete are commandeered by SUVs.
You find a spot, finally. Technically it’s not a spot. It’s behind the Market Basket with a picnic table behind it. It’s a dumpster. You managed to find a dumpster and park your car in it. That’ll do. You won’t be long, you just need bread, eggs, and milk to get you through the snow.
You hop out of your car as it teeters precariously at the top of a pile of garbage bags and quickly lock the doors. You can’t get into Market Basket from behind, so you pull your coat tight against yourself as you walk around the building and join the crowds.
An explosion of sound greets you as the front doors slide open. With growing horror, you realize that every cart is taken and your fellow shoppers have descended into anarchy. You pick up a basket that’s been abandoned by the door and remove the shopping from inside, ignoring the outraged woman who tells you you’re stealing her basket.
It’s fine, you just need bread, eggs, and milk.
Why? You don’t like any of those things and you can’t even scramble an egg. But it’s a snowstorm. It’s coming and you need bread, eggs, and milk.
Two women joust atop filled shopping carts, the prize clearly the lone can of Chef Boyardee that sits on the shelf beside them. Beyond them, a man watches as he sips from a can of Lays French Onion dip. You walk past that aisle and into the bread aisle beside it, dodging the baguette a man swings at your head as you walk in.
The Queen of the Night aria rings out over the loudspeaker. You’re pretty sure the night manager is singing, but you don’t know for sure. Or how you know that.
The bread aisle is nearly empty, but a bag of overpriced oatmeal bread sits silently, watching the chaos around it. You hurdle over a pile of crates, grabbing the bread as you fall to the floor. Nobody stops to help you up, simply nudging you aside with their carts as they pass.
Bread accomplished. Eggs are next.
Eggs are delicate. They shatter easily and spray their innards across the floor. Which is why they should be handled with care. So you don’t know why a child plays catch with his mother with individual eggs as you round the corner into the refrigerated section. The child looks at you, then tosses an egg in your direction. Thankfully their aim sucks and it just splatters against a bottle of orange juice.
You don’t need orange juice, so you ignore it and move on.
The eggs are shattered. But if you pick a single egg from each carton, you can get yourself a dozen whole eggs. Behind you the child screams. You ignore that as well as the Queen of the Night swirls around you all.
The snow will be here any minute and you still need milk.
The crowds are bloodthirsty now. Those that were merely chaotic just minutes ago now fistfight in the dairy aisle. Blood splatters the doors, obscuring the brands of sour cream available behind the fighters. You dodge them to get to the gallons of milk.
There are plenty of bottles of milk left. But the price seems to have gone up on your preferred brand. You take a moment to compare prices and realize the Market Basket brand whole milk is fifty cents cheaper. As a knife wizzes past your ear, you lean down and pull one out.
It doesn’t expire for a full week. Perfect.
Your mission is almost done. You have the bread, the eggs, the milk. But now you have to get in line to pay.
The line is long, but you have plenty of battery left on your phone. So you absently scroll through Twitter as you wait, reading updates on the storm’s progress. A few times, someone will try to take advantage of your apparent distraction to cut you in line. But a well placed baguette shows them the error of their ways.
The cashier takes the baguette to hold off the person ahead of you as they stack seventeen cartons of Polar seltzer on the belt. Preparing for the storm, the man says cheerfully as he picks up the last one.
Your turn arrives and you slide a hundred-dollar bill across the counter. The cashier pockets it and you bag your items. No change. There’s never any change when you’re preparing for the storm.
It’s a nor’easter, the first of the year.
You might be the first person to leave Market Basket all day. But the trick is that you slip out the back door by the deli. The alarms can’t be heard over the aria still wafting through the speakers. But once you slide your car out from the top of the dumpster, you’re home free.
As you drive down the street, windshield wipers whisking away the beginnings of the storm, you wonder vaguely how you even make French toast.