Oliver: Long, winding road leads to favorite grocery store

Sometimes we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone. Or at least that’s what I was thinking when a recent car problem made it impossible for me to do my weekly run across the county to go grocery shopping.

For years now, we’ve made a once-a-week trek from our McHenry home to an employee-owned warehouse grocery store clear in Carpentersville.

No need to think we’re crazy; I’ve heard that from my friends. However, when you want special foods and don’t have a lot of money with which to buy them, you do what you must. I’ve also learned that the word “far” means different things to different people. My mother used to think the trip from our home just outside McHenry to the former Eagle site in McHenry was “far”; that’s why she only went shopping once a week.

Granted, the journey to Carpentersville these days has been made infinitely more challenging with all the construction on Randall Road. However, I’m a creature of habit, and I know the store well, so I wasn’t about to change.

Well, that is, until those car problems made the long trip impossible. Then it was a lesson in problem-solving to figure out the best way to get everything done.

I have to laugh, because we didn’t always shop this way. Back when Tony and I were both working full time, we’d go out to eat a lot more. When cooking was done at home, that was Tony’s job, mainly because he liked to cook and I didn’t mind letting him.

So I’d dutifully make the grocery list and he’d do the shopping. However, he wasn’t into the once-a-week routine, nor was he much for meal planning. So he’d make an almost daily run to a local grocery store to get whatever it was that he wanted to cook for that day. If one store didn’t have it, he’d shop around town until he found the item he was looking for.

Since I wasn’t involved, I really didn’t have too much to say.

The other good thing about this system is that he wasn’t one of those people who would peruse the grocery store aisles and come back with extra items or something to try.

That would be me. Of course, he’d stick to the list so well that if it wasn’t on the list, he wouldn’t get it. Even if, ultimately, we needed it. Needless to say, I had to be at the top of my list-making skills back then.

Then things changed and we started to go to the store together. This also was about the time one of us was working part time. So there was less eating out and more of a need to plan our meals. That meant that it made more sense go to the store once a week.

That was fine when we had a great little grocery store near our house. We really do miss Sullivan’s. They carried just about everything we wanted, we liked the people there and we were supporting a local business. All good, until they closed.

Don’t get me wrong; we still do a good bit of shopping in McHenry. It seems that no matter how hard I try, we always need something in the middle of the week. However, the bulk of the weekly list gets done in one of those big stores.

As luck would have it, another location of our favorite grocer just opened in Lakemoor. It’s set up just like the one in Carpentersville, so I don’t even have to learn a new store layout.

So if you see someone doing a happy dance in the parking lot, it just might be me. That long wait – and long drive – is finally over.

• Joan Oliver is a former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

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