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NOT FOR NUTHIN - Gold-medal grocery unpacking

What compels us to think that we can manage to unload the trunk all in one shot?

I asked some experts: Cousin Vinny, who has had least 50 years' experience; Cousin Erik, with another 20 or so; and my aunt, who can teach the sport at a professional level.

“Is it easier in the long run,” I asked, “to take fewer packages at a time and make more trips or take as much as you can handle and do it in half the time?”

Both men, Vinny and Erik were unanimous. “Take as much as you can and get it over with quick.” But my aunt, who is wiser than Buddha answered, “Take fewer bags and make more trips, grasshopper.”

Knowing I had to make my usual trip to the grocery story, I decided to put it to the test this past Saturday. I awoke early and readied myself. I brewed a strong pot of black coffee, looked over the weekly circulars and wrote out a list of goods for the week. I threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth and groped my way to the car in the dark, arriving at the market way before the sun came up. There I was, virtually all alone in the store, happily filling the wagon with supplies.

I finished the shop, unloaded the items on the conveyor belt, bagged and loaded everything back into the wagon and then unloaded the cart again, piling up everything into the back of the car for the trip home. On my way home I made a pit stop at the bagel store and, just for good measure, loaded one more bag into the car.

Like General Patton before the troops I opened the trunk and surveyed the landscape, mentally counting the number of bags, as well as the large package of paper towels and cases of water that needed to be unloaded. If I crammed at least 8 bags on my left arm and conceivably took a few bags in my right hand at each trip, it would only take me two trips, three at the max —and I’d be done.

Poised at the precipice of history, my left arm held out at a 45 degree angle like a tree, I began loading the plastic shopping bags one by one — a gallon of milk, soda, bread, canned goods — until 8 bags were lined up on my arm like little soldiers. With my free hand I grabbed several light bags and I proceeded to stumble my way up the drive and up the stairs. My first trip was successful and I brought all the packages safely to the table.

The pattern continued until there I was with only two bags on my arm and a case of paper towels leaning against my shoulder. This would be the last haul and I would be done. I zigzagged under the weight of the towels and the bags up the drive to the last few feet. Feeling giddy with victory at my accomplishment, I went to grab the door handle to get myself up the last few steps of this grueling obstacle course — when my hand, miscalculating the distance, missed the handle entirely.

This one singular act of miscalculation sent me stumbling down on my butt. As I free-fell the last two steps, my other hand, trying to get a bead on the railing, let go the case of paper towels, thereby sending them sailing through the air down the driveway, and back to the car.

As I sat there contemplating the agony of defeat I determined that they were all wrong. Not for nuthin', but the best way to unload the car is to get someone else to do it.

E-mail “Not for Nuthin’” at JoannaD@courierlife.net. All letters become the property of Courier-Life Publications and are subject to publication unless otherwise specified; please include your name, address and daytime telephone number for verification

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