Valentina Sauce Therapy

I’m standing at the grocery store. Del Sol they call it now. It used to be Bi Rite, but they have since changed the name. A while back I think, but it took me a long time to remember the new name. I’d always say, “hey, I’m going to Bi Rite…” And then Anejlica would respond, “it’s not Bi Rite anymore!” Nothing really changed other than the name. The employees are all the same. The fruits and vegetables aren’t any fresher than they were before. There’s still Valentina in strong and extra strong versions down the same aisle. Even the built-in taqueria serves the same menu items. You have to pay for your food first at the grocery store cash register before you can walk to the corner of the store where the taqueria is to present your receipt. The waitresses and cooks won’t prepare your food if you don’t show them you’ve paid for it already.

On this day I’m standing in front of the cilantro. I’m struggling with the clear plastic bag I just pulled off the roller to try to open the bag so I can put the batch of cilantro I have in my hand in the bag. I can’t ever open these bags that come off the rollers because I’m convinced my fingers are just too smooth or don’t have enough coarseness to open them. I always have to turn to Edgar or Anjelica to open them for me. They’re not here with me today and so I’m pinching and pinching my fingers away with the plastic bag in between trying to get it open. I start to get frustrated and place my phone down on top of the the package of chicken to get a better grasp on the plastic bag. Nothing seems to be working. At this point I just start clawing at the bag with my fingers, hoping to just rip an opening so I can slide the cilantro inside. I’m also debating whether I should just walk up to the cashier and hand her the cilantro without a bag. I look around and notice there are a bunch of loose bags atop the fruits and vegetables today, like I was not the only one having this struggle in the produce section. The bags are new this time. They’re flimsier. They’re made of cheaper plastic and therefore seem harder to open.

Just when I’m about to give up, after I’ve clawed a hole through the bag, I notice the other side of the plastic bag has one piece that is longer than the other. That’s the opening! It’s actually an easier bag to open than the other ones Del Sol had before. My finger tips can pull the longer piece of plastic to get the bag open more easily now, but by this point I’ve already stashed the cilantro in my torn bag and am making my way to pick up the next item on the grocery list Anjelica texted me. Tomato sauce she says. A bag of fideo. “The chicken that I buy,” she tells me. To which I reply with another question. “It’s the thinner one that cooks faster,” she clarifies. “Oh, and bring lettuce too if you can please,” she texts.

I’ve got everything now. I’ve checked and double checked my list because that’s what I do. I even have a six pack of extra stuff just for me. The lady in front of me is slowly transferring her groceries from her cart to the register. I’m noticing the big avocados that are priced at $1.79 each while I wait, but we already had avocado this week, I think to myself. “Next in line,” the young cashier shouts on the next aisle over that just opened up. I pay for everything in my blue little hand basket and thank her for the prompt service. I’m walking to my car now. The guy talking outside to the young lady who’s dressed all in white like she’s from a religious group or something stops me while I’m walking away. “Hey sir, hey sir, they are calling you,” he says. Confused, I turn to find the cashier standing at the door with my bag with chicken meat inside in her hand. “This is yours,” she says. Yes. It is.

I thank her and apologize in the same sentence while I take the bag from her hand. Then the man who called me to come back and get the rest of my groceries hands me a business card and tells me he’s authorized to sell electricity and can get me a fixed rate. I’m hungry and tired now and just nod in agreement before taking the card and thanking him for it. It’s too late and I’m too tired.

It’s been one of those days and I just want my fideo and chicken cooked so I can pour Valentina sauce all over them.

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