Le (s)Tour de Grocery

The winter here at Vassar is cold; gray; cold; dark; cold; unpleasant; and, gosh, did I mention that it’s cold? Add COVID on top of that, and you’ve got what mental health professionals refer to as a “double-decker depression sandwich,”which means it’s important to safeguard your sanity during these difficult months!

My process for doing this is simple: I do some serious introspection, looking within myself to see whether I have the things that make life worth living. Of course, by “myself” I mean the fridge, and by “things that make life worth living” I mean peanut butter, ice cream and peanut butter ice cream. When those crucial resources start to run out, I know I’m close to a crisis, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to go to the grocery store!

My store of choice is Adams Fairacre Farms. It’s more expensive than the other options, but it’s possible to reach on a bike, unlike Target, which is too far, and Stop & Shop, which requires you to travel along roads that make the Indianapolis 500 look like childrens’ bumper cars. If I had a friend with a car, of course, I wouldn’t be so restricted. But if a frog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his ass a’hoppin, now would he?

Of course, just because it’s technically possible to reach Adams by bike doesn’t mean the trip is particularly pleasant. There are some hills on the route in either direction, which wouldn’t be a problem on a normal bike. Unfortunately, I ride a foldable model with one gear and wheels that the manufacturer got for cheap from a shopping cart factory. I always dress too warm for the trip because I forget how difficult the journey is, and any slight incline soon has me wheezing and sweating through my pullover. I have to be careful because drivers’ eyes quickly start to skip over me as they assume I’m just another grease slick on the road.

None of that compares, though, to the excitement I find within Adams once I arrive. After locking my bike to a handy railing outside—not a bike rack, since there isn’t one, because I’m the only person in history ever to bike to Adams—I mask up and step through the door into the promised land. Food! Food aplenty! It’s just like the Deece, except that half the displays aren’t empty for no reason!

I have a normal route through the store, but it’s stressful to follow because of the sheer concentrated humanity present in Adams at noon on a Saturday. I know that I want to get to the peanut butter, for example, but barring my way is the deli counter, where entire elementary school soccer teams are jostling each other in an effort to nab a large post-game sandwich. I find that it’s important to keep one’s elbows out while grocery shopping.

After checking out and packing my backpack in front of a very confused cashier, it’s time to go back to campus. Even though more of my route is downhill, I’m now loaded down with a spherical backpack filled with nutritionally questionable food items. Passing drivers likely confuse me for a particularly large and obese snail as I struggle up the many dreaded five-degree inclines that I’m forced to navigate, and I get even sweatier than before. It’s good that I don’t pass any pig pastures, because there’s a good chance that they would mistake my strained grunting for a mating call.

At last, legs shaking, I wheel my bike back into the dorm and call it a day. Frankly, I don’t understand why people bike for fun, but at least I earn my ice cream, right? Until next time—and, if you do have a car, keep your eyes peeled for particularly large puddles of oil, because they might be me!


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