Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When did grocery shopping alone become such an ordeal

Before we went to Berlin, our car broke down. Normally this wouldn't be such an ordeal, but we live in Saudi Arabia, so we haven't gotten our car fixed yet. This means we're dependent on other people for our transportation. Normally this wouldn't be such an ordeal, but we live in Saudi Arabia, so nothing isn't an ordeal.

I'm not suggesting that people haven't been helpful. Our neighbor is giving us a ride to school everyday, and he hasn't complained once about how he always has to wait for us in the mornings. But since I've got such an odd schedule, not having a car has made things even more complicated. For example, today I stayed late because I have my PLC on Mondays. I caught a ride with a colleague that lives a few blocks away, thankfully. I cancelled my Arabic session on Sunday because I wasn't sure how I'd get home. Dangit, why I gotta be such a go-getter?!

Anyway, that's not the point of my story.

Because we just got back from Berlin, we were running pretty darn low on groceries. What's the point of going grocery shopping when you're just going to be out of town for a week, right? So we put the house mates on notice and asked them to let us tag along if they went to the store. The opportunity came tonight.

Well it just so happens that my healthy husband went for a run right before the ride pulled out of the station. I had two options: abandon ship and continue to eat green beans out of a can and frost bitten frozen strawberries, or take the risk and go to the grocery store with a man to whom I wasn't married.

I realize what a massive eye-roll that last sentence just caused for those students of mine that read this blog. I understand that it's not illegal for me to be in a car with a man that's not my husband. I realize that no one is probably taking the time to worry about who I ride to the grocery store with. But I know what I've been told by the other teachers at work and I've been advised against traveling without my husband.

So I was a little paranoid. I even sat in the backseat, Driving Miss Daisy style. As soon as we got to the store, we separated.

Perhaps the paranoia was showing on my face, because I felt like I was being watched the whole time I was wheeling my cart around. At one point I was trying to exit the produce section when a deep, Indian accented voice from behind said, "You're not supposed to be out without your guardian!"

My heart stopped. This was it. I should clarify that the grocery store we frequent is aimed at the Indian Subcontinent demographic, so the managers are all Indian or Pakistani. I was sure that one of the managers was going to ask to see my husband to make sure I wasn't breaking any unwritten rules.

It turned out that it was just a friend of ours from the Aramco camp. He is, in fact, Indian and he was just joking around with me. He had no idea what an ordeal and source of anxiety this simple trip to the grocery store was for me.

Vicariously yours,

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