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Tensions can run high in our little town! The drama really never ceases whether we're talking development, changes to the OCP & local policy makers or just regular folks and their pets. There is truly never a dull moment.

Visitors in the summer are generally blissed out and completely unaware of these issues. "Who's GEORGE?" a puzzled couple once asked me in the store. "I just sold my house in Kerrisdale and bought acreage in ROBERT CREEK. I did VERY well. VERY well." another customer swaggered.

You gotta laugh my friends. It's the time we'd all been waiting for. Remember that time you couldn't sell a house in Gibsons to save your life? LOL. Now, property values are rising, businesses are busy and viable, housing developments are selling out. But wait a second. More crime, more crowds, more bags of dog poo tossed in the bushes; we didn't bargain for that bit.

And most of all, we didn't bargain for line-ups in the grocery store.

The thing I loved the most when I moved here, was the simplicity and ease that everyday chores could be completed. Parking is a breeze, no lineups, in and out with your Cheezy Poofs and back on the couch in no time. So, these changes are stressful. And the grocery store has caused me quite a bit of anxiety, even at the best of times.

I used to love grocery shopping. I'd go in full of dreams of things I wanted to cook and sort of make up my week of meals as I went along.

That was in my twenties.

I've been feeding myself for over twenty years, and the missions into the grocery store are much more jaded and utilitarian now. What's going to take the least time to prepare? What do I even like anymore? Is it local, local-organic, organic, natural, non-gmo, fair-trade, fairly treated, gluten-free? Is it going to promote or hinder my (fictional) thigh gap?

Some days I go into the grocery store and it feels like an episode of The Walking Dead. We're all just milling around aimlessly, pushing the carts like zombies. I find myself standing in front of something like.. bread.

My thoughts:

'Bread is expensive. I remember when bread was half that price. Carbs are bad. Are carbs bad? I should make my own bread. I used to make bread, what happened to me? Ooh crumpets. Butter on crumpets. Thigh gap. I've been standing here too long.'

Something goes into the cart, mystery to me until it is unpacked at home.

Anxiety used to make me plan my route in the grocery store. Sometimes I still do. I'd sit in my car, have my list and map out a straight lined route through the store to each item. NO DIVERSIONS. But in a small town, those diversions are usually friends and people you know.

I used to walk like George Jefferson through Sunnycrest Mall, eyes cast down, lest I lose a precious minute of time. I'd blast around the zombies, focused exclusively on getting my crap and getting out. Fast.

I got that from my dad. He had his motto, "I'm not busy, I'm busier". But he also had brown skin and a little white girl holding his hand. So who knows now, what his real driver was. Things were different then.

When I was running around like a maniac, I was in the start up phase of my business. I didn't have a lot of friends to bump into, and I definitely didn't think I had much time to play around with. I worked and slept and occasionally went out to a party and got stupid drunk and vowed never to go out again. Things were different then.

When anxiety didn't take the form of rushing, I had the most intense feeling of people watching me. I would cringe in the meat department deliberating over blueberry beef sausages versus apple bangers, convinced those people boredly butchering behind the glass window were eyeing up my Chinese eggplant, cucumber and bag of carrots wondering what that crazy bitch gets up to behind closed doors.

Maybe I'm not the only one who looks in people's shopping carts and tries to surmise how that collection of items goes together. I could never be a cashier at London Drugs, my brain to mouth filter is very, very damaged. (I get that from my mom). Peanut butter, rubber gloves, potato chips, denture adhesive, plastic wrap = "what time's the party start?". I have no control over it.

Happily, I'm moving more slowly now. I prefer to have time to carry out my chores, rather than turn them into an adrenaline-fueled mission through first world errands. There are still plenty of folks rushing to get their stuff done, and I am not completely free of that habit yet.

Often, we Coasters are busily doing errands, while just arrived visitors are extolling the virtues of their new sandals to their seven buddies, directly in front of the FUCKING POTATOES. There is no grace in being angry in the grocery store. But still, it happens.

And there are no rules.

I've seen the lack of rules around driving carts in the grocery store turn into rage. I suppose some people don't have driver's licenses and some do, but whether those rules of the road carry over into the grocery store is unclear. I have got some pretty serious "looks" for driving either too fast, too slow, or on the wrong side of the aisle. "You almost crashed into my cart is filled with delicious foods from all corners of the globe that I have either cash or credit to pay for and will go to my house and cook in the comfort and relative safety of Canadian soil. GRRRR".

But, I admit, I have likely given some too. But my favorite is when you collide with someone just as embittered and aggravated as yourself and you do the 'shared glare'. You can almost hear it, as it bounces off the glass of the freezers in the frozen food section, the mutual disdain. Absolute best.

But seriously, I feel lucky and grateful to have more time now. I'm trying really hard to not sweat the small stuff. Because we are all busy, each one of us in our own busy little worlds. It can be tricky, especially when your quick routine suddenly becomes a Tourism Ambassador role, admiring as well, the finely crafted sandals made from surfer-wild-crafted plastic bottles from the coastline of Goa - just to keep the Coast friendly. Or faced with long lineups, all checkouts full, while a visual of your day's schedule melts away, along with your ambition for living at all. And your ice cream.

Summer on the Coast. It is the very best place to be. Keep your sense of humour and don't "check out" on your reality checks. We are so lucky to be here.


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©2018 by Amber Stoby