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The Great Grocery Store WalkoutNovember 4, 2012

You guys, I can't thank you enough for the kindnesses in your comments to the last post. If you haven't read those comments, they're worth casting your eye over. I couldn't respond to all of them, but I did to as many as I could, and I've been having the most amazing conversations with people about depression and how it affects all of us. Really, every adult human being has been depressed at some point. Why don't we talk about it? 

Several of you mentioned The Great Grocery Store Walkout. I've done it myself. A cart full of goods, left behind, the ice cream melting, as you bolt because it's just too fucking difficult to decide between the expensive soft toilet paper and the recycled TP that feels like birthday streamers. I once panicked in Ikea and ended up buying a convertible, because it was easier. True story.

Reader Sandy had a good 'un for me. As a reward for being the most awesome readers in the whole wide world, I give you (with her permission) a great story that Sandy shared that had me rolling.


My ex sister in law came over from Scotland about 25 years ago.  She came from a little fishing village that had the old fashioned baker, butcher, post office, etc.  Small little village.  Think smaller.  Think about knowing everybody.  When you wanted to do errands you grabbed your basket and went out to get a few things.  However, her job had her moving temporarily to a suburb of Chicago where she subsequently met my brother in law and ended up marrying him.  Anyway -- I worked at the place she was temporarily transferred to and I was asked by HR to kind of show her around and make sure she knew how to get to the grocery store, put gas in her car, etc.  Kind of a helper to the US way of life, so to speak.
So, I took her to the closest grocery store to her apartment.  Costco.  We got a parking spot, grabbed the big giant cart, and into the store we went.  We got about halfway into the store and she had a full on panic attack!  She was like GET ME OUT GET ME OUT!  We abandoned the cart and I got her to the car.  She sat there trying to gather herself and said "Hen!"  (Scots call all women Hen)  "Hen!  I just need a wee bite to eat!  What in God's Name is that place we were just in?"  So I had to explain the concept of Costco to her and that it was closest to her apartment and I was so sorry and I thought there was less chance she would get lost if we went there.  (Suburb of Chicago.  Think lots of traffic.  Now think more.  Then think about her driving on the wrong side of the road...)
She said:  "I'll starve first.  I cannee go back in there.  I cannee."
So I found a little 7-11 and took her in there.  I think she ate Slurpees and overcooked hot dogs for about three months before she'd got the nerve to venture out to find a Safeway.
Grocery stores can slay the most intelligent well rounded women, I tell you!


How much do I love this? So much. Thanks, Sandy. And thank you, all. 



Costco can intimidate even a staunch American who is used to rampant consumerism. Great story!

My Cousin is a bright smart girl with two little boys but she has a full on panic attack (which turns into a asthma attack)just going into Alidi (don't know if you have them over in USA - originally from germany - like costco only a lot smaller (they usually only have one or two things of each item which in theory should be less overwhelming. I get like that in large shopping centers now - too many people

Oh mylanta - that was wonderful. I've walked through those stores sounding like the little engine that could... up and down the aisles mutter "I can do this... I can do this". Sort of like a positivity train with Tourettes. I think next time I'll just grab a Slurpee and a hot dog too.

That was definitely culture shock of the worst kind for someone used to a small village. Costco is a "small city" in itself! Amazing story. Hope she is okay now. Have a great day, Rachael. I am seriously Jonesing for an "Annabelle" (not sure if she kept the name). Starting to see a lot more Smarts in town here. Take care. Love and hugs.

Love this story! (And yes, I totally get how buying your sweet li'l ragtop would be much easier than venturing through Ikea. We just got an Ikea out here in Colorado but I haven't been yet. Now I'm afraid to go because I'd likely also come home with a new car instead.)


This story reminded me of my best-friend-in-high-school's mother, who was from Scotland. Same accent, lol. I never heard her call us Hen, but she called us Jimmy alot. Thanks for sharing that.

Love the story! LOL. Never been to Costco but I imagine I would have the same reaction but with a Puerto Rican accent. One of the things I love about NYC is that there are little neighborhoods within the huge city and you can get that sense of community.

Wow! All those years I thought I was some kind of incredible nut job and now I find I'm not Robinson Crusoe after all - not calling anyone else a nut job, just me! I couldn't handle supermarkets at all until after I had my first child in 1984, after which I felt sort of empowered or something and managed supermarkets. I still have trouble walking down a street, cannot possibly ride a push bike anywhere in case someone sees me (I think there's a good chance someone will! ha ha) and have to have a point by point plan of attack when I visit the small supermarket - with friendly staff - in my small town - it's all just second nature now - and I tend to look at the footpath when I walk as it's safer that way. I can do my job but I struggle with the other stuff. Thank you all for sharing and making me feel less of a self-made social outcast.

Hugs for you! And these links:



That is the one thing I loved about Scotland...little towns with a different business for everything you need. And usually not just a butcher ~ but there was a pork butcher shop, a beef butcher shop, & a poultry butcher shop. I imagine she was completely overwhelmed by Costco. Thanks for sharing.

That's how I feel about Costco. The more depressed or anxious I feel the less I can deal with that crazy, overwhelming temple of consumption. Especially when I think about where we are going to put all the stuff we are buying just because it's so cheap and how I'm not going to be able to move inside the apartment because of it all... yeah, panic attack city. Up with Prozac, down with Costco! :)

I love this!
Reminds me of when I was in grad school at Univ. of IL...I was out
there by myself, husband, son, and dogs back in CA. There were some days I could just NOT face Meijer (or however it's spelled) at the end of my day - even though it was closest to my apartment :) and went out of my way to go to the little IGA grocery store instead. It was quiet, muuuuch smaller, and I could handle it.

I recently went to my doctor for a regular check up. She asked me about things and how I was doing, not just physically, but mentally and really listened when I told her I was mostly good, but had periods of depression and feeling down. What she said to me was so simple yet so honest and true that is has comforted me ever since:

"If you are a woman who has made it to the age of 30 (my age, but obviously not relevant)and NOT dealt with some form of depression, I'd be surprised."

It was such a relief to just have that fact stated and acknowledged. It's something I could probably have reasoned out myself but just to have it confirmed and out there that these feelings are normal, not something to hide and that we all go through or struggle with them at various times in our lives was a powerful thing. It has gotten me through a lot of moments when I felt alone.

The more we talk, the more we can see that we all go through these things. It will stigmatize it less and maybe in the process we can gain comfort in knowing we all go through it. It's kind of like imagining everyone in their underwear before a presentation, it levels the playing field mentally.

I love your blog and wish you all the best with this. I am grateful for your honesty.

Thanks, Rachael, for your ability to share your struggles and help us all with ours.
I'll be trying the Chicken Adobo recipe and remembering going to church on the beach in Saipan too...though we didn't have wonderful lunches on the beach following the service...had to drive up the road to a blue and white little stand...thanks for sharing!

twice while suffering from post traumatic stress problems, i had anxiety attacks in a grocery store. i was fine until i got in line. still fine until another shopper got in line behind me. a small thing for sure, but on those two different occasions i felt so trapped and almost claustrophic just being crowded in like that, i actually had to abandon my shopping cart and leave the store. it was definitely time for some counseling to deal with the underlying issues, the traumatic events that were causing such anxiety that i wasn't functioning properly. into counseling i went, and it was a huge help. i didn't even have to go for long, just enough to get all the bad feelings out in the open. no one should be embarrassed to get some counseling when they need it. it can really improve your life, and we all know, life is pretty darn hard sometimes.

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